Twice-divorced. Non-combat military vet. Graduate degree holder. Works for Uncle Sam. Still trying to figure out this life.
Forum Replies Created
October 9, 2021 at 6:08 am #387186
Thank you again for writing… I agree with what you’ve written and will respond this weekend.
RyanOctober 7, 2021 at 3:04 pm #387153
As always, I appreciate your reply…
This is a sound theory and I feel it rings close to true. I tend to date women who have had poor relationships in their past. “Poor” meaning either abuse or infidelity. (Sadly, this seems to be the norm–at least for me.) At the same time, I tend to date accomplished, stable, college-educated women–nurses, law enforcement, Ph.D., etc. The Ph.D. was a mental health counselor who loved me deeply and tried like Hell to help discard my self-perceived inadequacies. And while she was immensely helpful, I simply did not see anything long-term with her. I just did not click with her.
I’ve had CBT off and on for over a decade. In 2017, I paid for a psychological evaluation that included the MMPI, CDS, TSI-2, SCS, and a diagnostic interview. The doctor’s findings corresponded with those of my counselors: That I needed to learn and implement coping skills to deal with depression and anxiety. What is pertinent to this post is this clause from the report: “[His] behaviors of closing himself off from the world has protected him and hindering him at the same time. Caution should be taken when addressing [his] emotional vulnerability since he cannot tolerate a lot of emotional risk, confrontation, or risk letting anyone see his true self.”
I find that parts of me I aim to keep hidden begin to bleed into relationships after a time. The depression, self-doubts, transient feelings of worthiness, lack of a “true purpose,” etc. I’m not settled in my own soul and cannot feel settled with another. There’s always the feeling that there has to be something more (or better) than this. All the while the years float by.
Unfortunately, for those women I let into my life on a romantic level, it never ends well. The guilt and feelings of emptiness and loss stick with me. Even with the nurse now, I knew I’d hurt her in the end and still I used her in a sense. And the use was essentially just enjoying her east company on the weekends. And now she’s heartbroken: “I don’t want to imagine my small world without you in it,” she texted last night.
I always thought I’d get a grasp on things in my life, and then I’d meet that one person who was right for me. And maybe I will but my patience wears thin at times. I always feel like I need to get myself right before I meet another, but I hold onto hope that the next girl will be different. And they may be but it’s me who is the same.
RyanOctober 6, 2021 at 12:20 pm #387121
I appreciate your reply and I agree with your thoughts…
I have not been in a long-term relationship since my second divorce 15-years ago. (She also attempted suicide after we separated but did not pin her attempt on me.) I read back over an online journal I’d kept then, and see where I often mentioned feeling quite inadequate. It is possible that my relationship with her not added to my lingering feelings of inadequacy, but added to them, and I’ve spent my time since in temporary, short-term relationships. Never remarried and nothing that lasted longer than 6-8 months.
With the nurse, I do feel a fondness and closeness with her, but I too fear getting close and letting her in. Since I told her that I was leaving on Monday night, she continues to text/call and asks me to essentially ask me to continue the relationship.
“Help is what people do for each other when they care and are in a relationship. It seems you don’t understand that it’s reciprocated. I’ve leaned on your support and thrived in it. I would have liked to give some of that back but you don’t want it. I honestly think it’s because you have feelings for me and you don’t really know how to process them or what to do with them. Unfortunately it’s pushing me away.”
Again, thank you for taking the time to reply, TeaK. I don’t expect you to reply to this, as I don’t know what else you can say. Nevertheless, I appreciate you trusting in me and making time to engage.
RyanOctober 5, 2021 at 3:03 pm #387103
I understand what you’re saying and appreciate it… And my response may be better suited for another Tiny Buddha forum.
I don’t think that I’m leaving before the nurse sees my inadequacies. I really enjoyed her company, but at the same time, I realize that I used her as an escape in a sense. My weekends here largely consisted of grocery shopping and the occasional weekend getaway, but it was nice to include someone else in my life. Obviously, it made for less lonely times for the both of us, but I knew it would come to an end. (Thought I’d end up relocating sooner than I plan to.)
The thing is, I think she would accept me for my who I am, with all (self-perceived) flaws. But to be honest, I don’t think I could do the same for her. She is intelligent, fun, and a good person, but there are things about her appearance that I do not care for and her politics are 180 degrees from mine. I fear that both would weigh on me as time went on.
And I convinced myself that leaving Appalachia and taking a job with a bigger organization was the right path for me. I set that path in motion last year and ended up getting the job in late March 2021. I’ve just been dragging my feet on my move since the cost of living here is significantly cheaper and we were teleworking for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, my mental health these past few years has not been grand. Even with counseling and SSRIs for a time, I continue to suffer from an inability to concentrate and focus, decreased retention, and general malaise. The fear of failure comes from not living up to the stellar employee I used to be in previous careers. There are metrics that have to be met in federal employment, and I have been “pulled aside” a few times for a pep talk about meeting expectations. Now, I’ll be leaving for a new city soon for a job that really isn’t that different than the one I left. Having served in the military, received my graduate degree, and working a “good job,” people see me as successful and drive. All the while, I feel very subpar and average these past few years.
To circle back, I guess I cannot expect anyone to see and accept my flaws when I truly cannot accept them myself.October 5, 2021 at 7:33 am #387093
Good morning TeaK,
Last night hurt (and continues to hurt) more than I anticipated. After I told her that I was taking a job and leaving, she cried and said that she needed to go for a drive. We spoke on the phone later, and she confided in me that she is more upset that I didn’t give her the option of possibly going with me and seeing where the relationship went. However, I did not confide in her that I’d done that before and it did not work and it would not be fair to her. She wanted to know why I did not want to maintain the relationship: “Is it my dogs? My looks? I’m too needy? Not fun? My politics? Or you just want to check out the dating pool there? Just why you don’t want a relationship?” I did not respond, because I simply do not know. And she is vulnerable and any criticism I would have offered would have stuck and she would carry it on to future relationships.
She continues to text this morning: “I’m so torn…my head says I should just start hyper dating a bunch of losers and try to get over you and move on but my heart says I should take whatever time we have and make the most of it. That’s what I want. Time is so short & who knows what tomorrow will bring and why quit something that makes me happy? P.S. don’t respond. I’m just getting stuff out.” She warned me early on that she didn’t want to fall for me and wanted to keep me at arm’s length, and there is some anger inside her that I didn’t do a better job at keeping some distance. I could have been honest about leaving here from the start and possibly saved her some heartache, so that weighs on me.
To answer your questions, TeaK… Been diagnosed with dysthymia, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and I suffer at times from anhedonia. Had severe self-esteem issues as a child, and others have suspected some traumas experienced as a child that I do not recall. I did not date growing up, and being married with a child at 20–then divorced a few years later–after braces and a better diet and exercise, I began to “grow” into myself. I dated several women with emotional issues–one attempted suicide and another, sadly, was successful. Married the girl who had attempted suicide near the end of our marriage. After her, I tried to be more…selective, which may have contributed to my unwillingness to connect on a deeper level with them. This likely fed into the belief that there may be someone better just around the corner.
I do see the immense value in a companion (or lifelong partner). I could say that I’ve been too focused on myself to put in the work necessary to build a deep, lasting relationship. I am highly self-critical–and critical in general, though I try to keep the criticisms to myself. I find when a relationship runs into trouble, I perhaps do not value it enough to put the work in to fix it. A romantic relationship means being wholly vulnerable and open, which is something I’ve been unwilling to do. There’s a commitment and an intimacy that I cannot seem to maintain.
I keep waiting for the “one” or the person I feel a deep connection with, and maybe I don’t give it time to develop. There is so much about myself that I feel needs work, but I continue to date and ultimately hurt them in the end. All the while, time flies by and I move closer and closer to 50.
I am seeking fulfillment in someone else, but all the while, I’ve never truly found it inside myself. I grow impatient and frustrated and meet someone who soothes those feelings for a time. Meanwhile, I am filled with feelings that I’m not stable enough for this world and feeling that I’m always a step away from failing at work. I’m simply not happy and fear this job and the move will not make me any happier.
My apologies as this response was all over the place.
RyanOctober 4, 2021 at 1:31 pm #387075
Thank you, TeaK. I would like that…
While it stung to read it, I can understand Anita’s suspicions. I did not realize how similar their comments were. Obviously, I do not include all the text messages. And while it may be odd, or at least not the normal here, I include comments here as I feel it paints a better picture than the one-sided picture I could paint alone. I do wish that my writing here did not give a false impression, but all I can say is that I wouldn’t be pouring out so much here if it were false.
As I said with Anita, I would understand if you decided to no longer communicate with me here.
RyanOctober 4, 2021 at 12:57 pm #387070
No need to analyze, Anita. I can see any trust has been broken. I am sorry for seeming to waste your time. I know your mind is made up no matter what I say here. All I can say is that everything I’ve written here is true.
I will no longer utilize the Tiny Buddha forum.
RyanOctober 4, 2021 at 12:35 pm #387065
This may speak more to me about the type of woman I seem to attract? I don’t know…
The ex with the son was very empathic but also suffered from an abusive father, which she blamed on the uncontrollable angry outburst. The nurse seems to have a lovely relationship with her parents, but does also suffer from depression as my ex with the son does. Both deal with self-esteem issues and a deep longing for real companionship.
I am sorry if it came across as I was writing a story here. I can assure you that I would not waste your time or the time of the other contributors as well. This current post may be a bit of rinse and repeat as TeaK pointed out, so I can understand your suspicions.
I write here to journal in a sense, and now that I’ve written, I can see that I put myself in a similar situation again. My apologies if it came across as though I were writing about the same person. Your identification of this has me a bit shaken, as it was something I did not realize.
RyanOctober 4, 2021 at 12:19 pm #387062
Hmmm… I can see how you would be skeptical, but I only insert copies of their text messages her for a bit of context. I try to give their side of my interpretation of our relationship, and felt that including snippets from our conversations may be helpful. However, now that you’ve summarized them into a post, I can see how they read like they could have been authored by the same individual.
I can assure you that I am not writing a book and my posts here are genuine. Though it is a bit mind blowing to me seeing how similar to each other they read.
RyanOctober 4, 2021 at 11:18 am #387056
Oh, TeaK, that is spot on!
So it seems to me there is an inflated, superior sense of self, and an inferior, self-deprecating sense of self, both living in you simultaneously.
To answer your question, I don’t really know if I value myself. I feel that I can be a very good friend–which is what I should have aimed for in this relationship–but also understand that a relationship with me can be emotionally painful. It feels so egocentric to believe my presence in her life was a positive while the disillusionment of our relationship will cut her so. I know she’s angry, as she lashed out yesterday: “I can’t believe I wasted all this time.” I know that is anger and sadness in her reply rather than logic.
I think a part of the dichotomy comes from feeling like I can be a positive influence in someone’s life, but knowing I’m incapable of giving them what they may need. In this case, it was safety, security, and kindness. However, I was unwilling or unable to give her love (or at least the type of love she wanted). I can chalk it up to that risk in any relationship, but I wonder how things may have been different had I been honest with her from the start? Based on past experiences, I believed that she would have still developed romantic feelings, or pushed for them in an attempt to hang onto me.
As before, I do hope that she and I can eventually find a friendship. She is a very good person and one I value, and I know she feels the same about me. While I know once I share with her tonight that I’m relocating for work, she will react as she stated. Perhaps in time, we can have some semblance of a friendship.
I appreciate you responding here, TeaK. It helps me to flesh out my thoughts rather than continue to ruminate on them.
RyanOctober 4, 2021 at 10:02 am #387052
Thank you for taking the time to reply…
Yes, I agree that is a similar-type relationship. However, I don’t feel the guilt/shame of the demise of the relationship this time. I do feel that I’m “worthy” of being loved and praised. To me, part of my stress is that I again do not feel the same way about the girl as she does for me. Perhaps this is normality in relationships, but there is a frustration in me from never quite feeling that way about another. And I tend to attract those who have suffered from bad relationships in the past.
As I’ve written before, I beat myself up when I hurt people close to me. I’ve worked quite a bit with my counselor on being more vulnerable this past year, which I incorporated into this relationship (to an extent). I do feel that I could/should have been more truthful from the start, I wasn’t sure how this relationship would progress. I would certainly feel shame if I encouraged her to accompany me on my relocation while knowing that isn’t what truly want. So, I will not give her that option.
The disillusionment of this relationship will be painful for her, which brings me no pleasure. I know that I was different from others she’s dated in the past, and that she wants to cling to those feelings of safety and security. I’ve tried to placate myself by thinking that I’ve shown her a bit of what’s possible so she’s better prepared for someone better in the future; however, I know that I’ll leave a scar that will take time to heal. Guess every relationship leaves its marks?
RyanOctober 4, 2021 at 7:36 am #387044
I haven’t written here in some time and thought it time to again…
With COVID still a major issue in the US (as it is in most of the world), I am still living here in Appalachia and have not yet had to make the move to the new job. However, as things are beginning to normalize in the corporate and government worlds, the move will happen by the end of the year.
The job, while less monotonous and and a less overwhelming workload than my former job, it’s still largely an “administrative job.” Meaning it’s just a lot of managing different programs via emails and system software. While it certainly doesn’t provide much “meaning,” it is within an agency that does provide for the betterment of humanity, so at least there is the possibility of moving into a more meaningful role. Or, as my counselor has said, perhaps I need to find meaning and a sense of purpose outside of work through volunteering or a similar avenue.
For the yang to my yin, I met someone back in May. Actually, we had connected via a dating app in the autumn of 2020 but only rarely chatted. She is, and was then, working both as a nurse and an instructor and had little time for socializing. We finally went out in May one her teaching gig ended for the summer, and have spent most weekends together since.
Where I selfishly erred was not telling her from the start that I would be leaving.
I tried to justify it by telling myself that I was going to be leaving and it wouldn’t be a long relationship. But the weeks turned into months and here we are.
Things had been casual in a sense–we were not dating other people and didn’t talk too much about the future. Even that sounds like a copout. We spend nearly every weekend together and had gone away on a road trip on Independence Day weekend. I did things that people do in relationships: Bought her gifts, helped her work on her home, dinners, drinks, etc.
There were many opportunities to tell her I would not be staying but I allowed fear to stop me. I was “waiting for the right time” or telling myself the opportunity would present itself. My plan was to wait until the fiscal year (Oct 1) and tell her I had been given the job offer since the agency would be hiring with the start of new funding. (Thought it would hurt less than to tell her I’d been working for the agency since we’d first gone out.)
Things had become more serious for her in recent weeks. She asked me two weeks ago to tell her if I ever wanted to end things, then to tell her and not just ghost her. (While I know only snippets, she has had some bad relationships in the past. She is also a divorcee like me.) On Saturday night, we were out for drinks, and while driving home, she asked me to share one intimate detail about myself. I hemmed and hawed for a bit, and in her inebriated state told me that she’s falling for me. Shit. I mumbled some sort of reply that I care about her and she is important to me. The last of the alcohol has kicked in by the time we got to her place, and she asked me to go home.
We texted a bit when I got home before she passed out. I tried to explain to her that I really don’t love myself and it’s hard to love another. She replied, “I see what is beautiful. You have so much to offer. You are wonderful. And beautiful and smart and funny Once you see it you will know.”
We texted yesterday morning and I tried to explain that I wasn’t “feeling it.” She replied:
“I appreciate your candor. I’m not “worried” about falling for someone who is transient…I just like to know their plans. I’m not opposed to it. I do understand how it can be hard to give part of yourself…that’s why I’ve been a bit worried lately because I wasn’t sure on your feelings… I wouldn’t feel guilty for falling hard if it was reciprocated. You aren’t awful. Really, it’s my own insecurities wanting allayed when I push for intel. I’m not confident in why anyone would like me myself. I’ve always struggled with insecurities.”
“I just…when I’m with you…it’s just good. I’m just happy. I didn’t want to lose that. Sorry.”
“I’m never good enough. I don’t know what it is that makes me unlovable. What would you change?”
“I am hurt…but I don’t blame you. You didn’t deliberately hurt me. You are absolutely wonderful and kind. When I’m with you I am a different person. Happy and peaceful and life is wonderful. ☺️ I thank you for that.”
“It could be a book… ‘One Magic Summer’. Two lost souls came together and experienced bliss for short time.”
“So this is how this goes. For approximately 1-2 weeks I will panic about the change in my life/loss of a person I care for etc. sooo….I won’t do anything crazy…but…I will probably blow up your phone A LOT…it’s just hard for me to adjust…after a few weeks, I’m fine & you’ll probably never hear from me again unless you text me or something.”
While I did my best to let her down easy, she is left in limbo. She has a rare day off today and wants to have me over for dinner tonight. Unfortunately, it is tonight that I’ll have to tell her that I’m leaving and break her heart.
I feel like such absolute garbage.
She is very special to me and I do care deeply for her. While I wanted to be a positive influence in her life, I know my selfishness or unwillingness to be truthful with her from the start allowed her to develop strong feelings for me. I know her insecurities and my aloofness fed her uncertainty about the relationship. And the alcohol allowed her to be vulnerable. To take a chance and pour her heart out only for it to go unreciprocated. Not only is the relationship ending but I’ll soon be leaving as well.
I wish that I loved her. Or felt like a deeper love could develop in me. It’s just not there. So, I’ll be leaving another woman in pain. I’ve tried to justify the relationship by telling myself that I showed her what a good man can be. However, truthfulness comes with goodness, and I’ve kept that from her from the start.
I have enjoyed our time together and valued the relationship. She’s very easy to get along with–a “goes with the flow” type of person. Like me, she too battles with self-esteem issues and depression. She has also been cheated on in the past and had men treat her poorly. With her return to teaching in early September, she has been falling into a depression, as the workload and general feeling of no longer being fulfilled in that role.
I robbed her of her ability to choose if she wanted a relationship or not. Maybe we wouldn’t have had a second date, or maybe she wouldn’t have developed feelings for me. Or maybe she would have and this would have been painful anyway. I don’t know. I feel wracked with guilt and know that I made it worse than it needed to be for her.
I’ll see her for dinner tonight, and will have to be honest with her.
RyanApril 25, 2021 at 10:00 am #378712
Dear TeaK and Anita,
Thank you for taking the time to reply… Wanted to write a quick reply before I head to the gym.
To address your posts, TeaK. I do not know if it’s that I cannot say “no” to women. Part of me wanted to have sex because it has been quite some time since I had. While I could convince myself to the first time, there simply wasn’t a connection/attraction to her to continue to simply have sex for purely carnal or selfish reasons.
I think my issue is more that I feel a sense of guilt/shame when I hurt or disappoint women. It feels as though women see me as something that I may not always be: A good man or a better man than most. I try to live up to their expectancies but often don’t. I’m sure some of it can be traced back to not wanting to disappoint my mother, but I honestly do not know.
I did deal with anger issues with I was younger. I have never been physically violent with any woman, but I did kick a wall when I was maybe 21 after a fight with my wife at the time. I been in therapy off and on for 15+ years now, and time and work on myself and lessened the fire inside me.
Anita, yes, I have certainly felt Acute distress and despair (and continue to do so at times). There are days—or periods of time during a day—when I am in the throughs of a dark spiral and cannot find a way to stop. I’ve learned that poor sleep or undereating “feeds” these feelings, so often a good meal or simply taking a nap may help a bit.
As far as joy is concerned, it is a rare emotion. I have often been asked by counselors over the years if I feel joy, and my responses is nearly always no. While I treasure having the ability to get outside, and feel the endorphins when I go for a hike or a walk, I rarely find joy in it. I recognize that I am fortunate (blessed?) to have the physical ability to explore the world with all my senses, but there simply isn’t joy in it for me.
I’ll try to expound more later.
RyanApril 20, 2021 at 12:48 pm #378179
No, I don’t think that is the case. I was alone for nearly all of 2020 and I had these highs and lows. I’ve dealt with these waves most of my life. This may take a longer post to properly explain, and that will have to wait. CBT has helped me as much as it can I think, and I’ve placed myself in a good position in life by serving in the military, getting a graduate-level education, and working for the US government. (Much of my stress in the past came from living essentially paycheck-to-paycheck, and I did not want to end up working so hard for so little as my parents did.)
To offer a quick take: Much of my disillusionment stems from never feeling truly “at home” wherever I am in life. Rarely feeling connected with someone–which, again, therapy has helped immensely. And, generally, and existentialist-view of the world. Not a great combination.
RyanApril 20, 2021 at 11:39 am #378167
Not so much “emotional mountaintops” in terms of social interaction, but more just in a general, emotional sense. It’s nothing new–dealt with these highs/lows most of my life. Some days, I feel quite good. I’ve slept well or feel a sense of excitement for the day ahead. Then, the next day I’ve done a 180 and I have little will to do much of anything and an inability to focus. I’ve been Rx’d 76 mg. of venlafaxine for a number of years, based on the GeneSight test, and while I feel it does help balance me, I feel that most of my depression/anxiety/etc. is situational based. This is one reason why my current counselor has encouraged me to cease living such a nomadic life and find a place to call home.
And while, the possibility of a mutual connection and relationship with my former colleague did help to an extent; but, as you know, it also caused me to overthink and become anxious at exactly “what we were.” I knew that we were never going to have a romantic relationship early on, but her overall inability to let me get close (with the exception of a handful of times), pushed me to want to find a way to find a closeness.