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Leah

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  • #403249
    Leah
    Participant

    Hello Lea, my name is Leah!

    First of all I want to say this: you are not alone. Everything you described is very familiar to me. I also notice that it fluctuates a little – sometimes I’m more bothered by the presence of people, sometimes I’m a bit more welcoming. I also have some form of generalized anxiety or social anxiety disorder. And I also relate to this being more around men than women.

    I can only speak from my own experience, but encourage you to read and look into yourself and see if maybe our similarities can give you some information about your truth.

    I used to think that I’m a lone wolf type of person. Always knew how to occupy myself, have my own world, my hobbies, interests, and I didn’t need other people to feel whole. I also used to see myself as a “late bloomer” when it came to relationships (I’m a heterosexual woman), and I’ve never had a long term relationship, and have never had sexual experiences. At some point I realized that it’s not that I didn’t want to have a relationship with a man, but that my FEAR of them stopped me from pursuing one. I’m happy to say since realizing it, I’ve worked on it and had a wonderful first relationship. (which very recently ended, and I’m heartbroken, but we’ll put that aside for now)

    I think it really comes down to your trust in people. I found that I have very little trust, and it’s a subconscious thing, it’s also the source of my anxiety. I feel unsafe in social settings, feeling like I could only count on myself if something happened, and of course – someone can do something to me. Either I need help and no one will help me, or someone will directly cause me harm. When it comes to men this feeling triples itself, because men can hurt me in more ways than women can. We live in a world where we hear so much about rape, about women’s rights being revoked (not to get too political, but what’s happening in the US right now is horrendous imo) and it’s no wonder that more women are scared of men nowadays. I can’t say if it’s for a good reason or not. But I think it all comes down to trust and feeling safe – if you don’t feel this way, you will be uncomfortable, anxious, scared, avoidant… This of course also makes you fearful or avoidant of physical touch. Have you tried, when feeling anxious, to ask a friend for a hug? I think the biggest challenge here is to trust and to feel like you can be yourself, secure, and comfortable around people.

    There isn’t a clear solution that I can think of. But being aware of this helps. You can ask yourself questions and reassure yourself, for example, if you go to a social event and you feel uncomfortable, maybe think of 1 person there who is your friend, and you know she/he will have your back. You can even share with them ahead of time how you feel. Sometimes it helps to think of the worst case scenario, and realize that you are capable of handling it if it comes. Remember that everyone is occupied with themselves, everyone fears judgement and wants love and acceptance. They aren’t gonna hurt you. Maybe they could even be your friends.

    These are just my 2 cents, I hope it helps.

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    #403241
    Leah
    Participant

    Dear Anita

    It’s still hard for me to believe that this wasn’t as meaningful to him as it was to me. But looking back, I think the fight that we had about a couple months ago was his way of signaling to me that we are in big trouble and that if something doesn’t change, then he’s out. I think ever since then, he’s been slowly checking out… I think I instigated the breakup out of a fearful place, like you said, to protect myself form facing those deep-set traumas and habits I had, and I think he wanted the breakup maybe because of his commitment issues, which has begun to come in after we moved in together and made him question the relationship.

    I’m immensely sad that it didn’t work out. But I understand that hindsight is 20/20, and I didn’t know what I know now. Still, I have the regret of feeling like NOW I know what we should’ve done better, but it’s too late. I will do my best to focus on my own growth and take some space from him. I hope with time, and with finding out more things about myself and bettering myself, I will attract someone with whom I can share my life with – whether that’s him or someone new.

    I felt your virtual hug with every post! Thank you so much for helping me reflect on this. Your words and point of view were unique and helped me a lot to see things in different ways. I will be sure to come here whenever I need. You are a beautiful soul Anita, thank you for what you do in this forum!

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    #403222
    Leah
    Participant

    Hello Anita

    About what you said – I agree about how the person with the exposed nerves needs to learn self control. I find it very difficult sometimes to hold back or stay quiet another moment, or keep down my reaction. I will try to work on it.

    About what he needs – I meant more of what he wants out of a life partner, which is someone who can go out more without a fuss, and maybe someone who he can express himself to, like you said…

    What I need – I’m not entirely sure. I’m trying to focus on what I need RIGHT NOW, which is just compassion and a hug…

    The conversation wasn’t great. I ended up feeling hurt and disappointed, but I accept this as my initial reaction, and I already feel it fade out to my real emotions, which are more accepting and empathetic to him.

    Basically, he’s not ready to really look at the relationship the way I have. He simply doesn’t do it. He doesn’t look back. It’s too painful for him, and he’s scared to fall into a pit of darkness and never come out. He also absolutely cannot allow himself any bit of “maybe” or to dwell on the relationship, or to question the decision to breakup etc… I was hurt, because he said numerous times how we just need to move on, carry on, look forward– but it’s only been two weeks. And this was a very meaningful relationship for both of us. I feel like “moving on” so quickly, and to not look at our relationship and examine it, cheapens it or makes it feel like not a big deal. I was also hurt because I came to the conversation willing to be vulnerable, and wanting to share myself with him – my thoughts, my feelings, everything, the way I used to. But I am telling myself to accept the way he chooses to deal with it, which is by looking away from it and trying to get busy with other things. It makes me feel unimportant, but I understand that that’s all he can give me right now. I realize that I can’t expect him to give me what I want right now (closure, talk about the relationship). I hope that I can move past the hurt I feel right now, so that when he’s ready to talk, I can be there. But right now I understand that I can’t have these conversations with him, unless there’s something HE wants to say or tell me. The conversation was emotional and difficult, very different from the one we had a week ago.

    I will say, that I got to share with him my realization about my anxiety, and how much it’s been ruling my life, clouding my judgement, and that I now realize he tried and he told me all of this, but I couldn’t listen. I told him I’m back in therapy and that I’m gonna start seeing a psychiatrist and really try to work on it. He cried as I was telling him this. He was very surprised by how much progress I’ve already made, and was happy and proud of me. He told me I was amazing.

    He did say, about himself, that he realizes he has a tendency to run away from situations, and that he has commitment issues.

    From things he said, I think he wants to “move on”, cut off contact for a while, so that we can be friends and still have each other in our lives. Right now, I feel like I can’t do it. I want him as my partner and I don’t know if I could handle being just his friend. It hurts me to think that it didn’t mean as much to him as it did to me. But the bottom line is, he’s just not looking at our relationship and what’s happened to it. He refuses to do it, or he cannot do it. It’s hard for me to accept, but I have to accept it…

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    #403139
    Leah
    Participant

    Hello Anita!

    How is it in life that we only receive so many realizations out of heartbreak…

    I am sad to hear about your situation with your parents. My parents never spoke ill of each other, at least… I agree with you that I had seen my mother’s trauma and adopted it as my own.

    I’m going to talk to my ex boyfriend tomorrow, and I plan on telling him some of my realizations about myself. I hope he can see that I intend to learn and grow from this experience. Although I miss him very much, on every level, I have to accept that for right now I can’t give him what he needs, and I’m not sure he can give me what I need. It’s a difficult lesson in life… I hope someday we can be together, or rather, with the person that’s meant for us.

     

    Thank you Anita and Tommy for your thoughtful responses!

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    #403107
    Leah
    Participant

    Thank you again Anita. Your responses really help me reflect on things.

    All the stuff you said is true. I learned to not rely on either of my parents from a young age. I learned to be independent from a young age, kept myself busy. I think over the years I created this core belief that I was a lone-wolf type of person, someone who enjoys solitude and doesn’t need anyone. What I learned through my relationship with my boyfriend is that I was sorely mistaken. I really want and need deep, intimate, close connections. It gives me meaning and enriches my life. I want to share my life with someone, and I want to have close friends. (I used to, in high school) I think I’m more social than I’ve taught myself to believe, or maybe it’s part of the false reality my anxiety created.

    I wonder about these two things you wrote: “It is very, very difficult to replace powerful early-life experiences with later-life experiences.” and “if the two of you were to resume the relationship, you’d need to hear and prioritize him, and he’d need to become aware of his aggressive expressions (tone of voice, volume, other expressions) and get them under control.” Do you think it’s possible to change? I tend to believe that it is possible, and if people clash in their harmful patterns, then they can work on it and learn to better communicate with each other in a way that doesn’t trigger or touches the exposed nerves of the other person.

    I agree with you about the origin of my mistrust in men. Seeing how devastated my mom was, I swore that I won’t ever let something like that happen to me. I developed a fear of men. What did you mean by “What if the reality of their marriage is … not exactly what you believe it is, I wonder?”?

    I fear you’re right about the origin of my doubts. The question is, maybe it’s a good thing that he brought my unresolved stuff to my attention? Thanks to him, I’ve been made aware of so many things about myself that I need to solve and improve on. I ultimately want a relationship where we better each other, but I see now that I wasn’t ready to change. I am very stubborn, which is something I need to work on.

    I hope in the future, after I’ve worked on myself, perhaps even manage to live a life with no anxiety, I could try again with him. For now, we still aren’t finished with the breakup… We are still there for each other in some sense, and still need to separate and move out of our apartment. This is all very heartbreaking for both of us… I want to believe that someday we’ll make it work, but maybe that’s just my heart fantasizing.

    I have a long journey ahead of me, and I wish I could take him with me, but I see now that I’ve done him a lot of harm. We also were really good to each other, a lot of the time. There were only a handful of “bad” things between us. I hope we can both reflect on it all together, and grow from it.

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    #403034
    Leah
    Participant

    Hello Tommy, thank you for your reply. I wonder if you had more advice about how to know when to stick it out, and when to accept that maybe the differences between two people are two big to gap.

    I feel like after I moved in with him, I had accepted and dedicated myself to living my life with him. I think I got a little comfortable, maybe, and didn’t check on him enough.

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    #403033
    Leah
    Participant

    Hello Anita, thank you very much for your response.

    1. What you said about anger was very interesting to me. As a child, I was pretty quiet and introverted. Through therapy I’ve realized that I had a lot of anger as a kid (my parents divorced when I was 5, and since then they haven’t been able to answer my needs properly), but I didn’t properly expressed my anger, instead turning it inwards and internalizing it. That’s how I’ve grown to hate myself so much as a teenager, and would punish myself with self harm, starvation, and even from the age of 10 I remember I had suicidal thoughts. Since then, though, I’m glad to say that I no longer have those horrible thoughts about myself, and I’m no longer suicidal.

    About my mistrust in men, it definitely comes from my relationship with my father and my parents’ divorce. My dad emotionally cheated on my mom (I only found out in the past few years). He was the whole world to my mom, so when he left home she was devastated. For a few years, I remember my mom just lying in bed and being generally unhappy. As a kid I was very creative and imaginative and was excellent at keeping myself busy with dolls, movies, and later on the internet. So I experienced very early on how men can ruin women. Furthermore, despite my father insisting on seeing me and my two older brothers, and he always loved us and wanted to be a part of our lives, he simply did not have the time. He had his own business (to this day), and he would leave early in the mornings and come back at 8PM or later. After the divorce, the days we were at his place, he wasn’t very emotionally available, and so I learned not to rely on him in this sense and not to expect much from him. Nowadays, I do have a good relationship with both of my parents. My mom is one of my best friends, and we talk about everything. My dad has grown to be more emotional over the years, and so I open up to him a little more. Both of them are married to other people, and live about 20 minutes drive from each other, so if I come back to my parents for the weekend, I would usually visit them both (separately).
    As far as being jealous of his parents or his family – far from the truth. His family is very complicated. His parents also got divorced when he was around 5 years old, and he grew up mainly with his father and his new wife, along with her 3 children, which he considers to be siblings because they grew up together. They are 7 children total, 3 biological, 3 step siblings, and one half sibling. His father lives in the same town as my father, which is why we’ve known each other since we were 16. He has a complicated relationship with his mother, who’s been alone since the divorce (about 20 years). Right now she lives out of the country, and they communicate on the phone about once a week, but he finds her draining and difficult to talk to.

    On that note, I know as kid he wasn’t heard at home, either. He was often forgotten about. When he was a teenager, he would often sleep and live at friends’ houses, leaving his own home after fighting with his dad and slamming doors. I also see that in our fights that we had, he always got up and left. He has a pattern of running away, and I have a pattern of expecting men to leave me, like my father did all the time.

    2. The point about claustrophobia is interesting… But I didn’t come back to my parents when covid hit. I was still living alone which resulted in isolation, during covid… But I do agree that often times my parents’ house felt like a gilded cage.

    3. You are right. Taking responsibility and accountability for my mental health, anxiety, and how it affects my partner is something I’m only now realizing I needed to do. I kept him out when it came to my anxiety, guarding it and protecting it, even though it only did me harm. I couldn’t listen to him when he expressed that he was worried, and wanted me to be free of it. More than that – he believed I can be free from it. And I didn’t believe it. Now I’m starting to believe, and I’m mad at myself for not being able to see it sooner. I was too caught up in protecting myself – my anxiety – and my own well being, that I didn’t leave enough room for his emotional state. I made him feel unheard and not prioritized.

    4. I agree again. I think I would say it was arguments, only the last time being a fight. But regardless, our communication in those moments went out the window. I love the idea of negotiation, I think it’s the right way to go about it.

    5. Yes. I feel like I never knew if my uncertainty in the relationship came from intuition, or because of all of my baggage, my mistrust in men, my mistrust in long-lasting relationships…

    I agree about your last point. I thought I could work it out with him, in the relationship. I know he really helped heal a lot of my mistrust in men, and I learned to lean on him and trust him. At the same time, I do have a lot of unresolved fear, anger, trauma, which culminates to me having anxiety and over-protectiveness over myself, which often times results in me pushing away people who care about me. I feel like the anxiety taught me false-truths, and I believed it until it became my reality. I always thought my mental health issues and emotional instability were facts, something I would always have to deal with. Now I see there could be a reality where I don’t have to fight myself so much and struggle so much.

    I do want to note, that he also has harmful patterns. Especially in the arguments that evolved into fights, often times he would raise his voice (which completely shuts me down), and because he’s very passionate he can come off aggressive, which I interpret as hostile, resulting in me getting over-protective. I think he, too, doesn’t know how to express anger in a healthy way. I’m not trying to deflect the guilt, but I’m wondering if we are compatible, and if these things can be worked on and we could, someday, make it work better… Or am I holding onto false hope?

    Right now, we have some contact (the breakup happened two weeks ago), and we’ll also need to sort out the apartment that we share (I went back to my dad’s house, and he’s subletting a unit close to our apartment. He can’t be in our apartment, it’s too painful for him). We are both hurting, we love each other and care for each very much, we’re both confused… I think we should breakup now, because everything seems too big and I’m not sure we can unravel it all right now. I know for myself, that I need to start my journey of solving my anxiety, and working on my tendencies to shut people out, not listen, etc… But I miss him a lot. He’s been one of the closest people to my heart for a decade. We click on an amazing deep level. But I still have doubts, and I don’t know what’s causing them.

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