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Confused and seeking guidance on an unconventional relationship

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  • #354228
    Isabelle
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Please feel free to ask all the questions that come to your mind. I am truly grateful that you are trying to help, and questions are necessary for you to achieve a better understanding of my situation.

    I do tend to forget to congratulate myself for leaving my ex. I do this in general. It’s always on to the next challenge. Never enough. Thank you for reminding me to give kudos to myself. 🙂

    The excuses I used for my ex were that he was stressed, unhappy with his job, which he found asked too much of him. Unhappy with life in general. I told myself that he had difficulty facing the challenges of life. And I thought I was partly responsible for his unhappiness, for neglecting him when my son was a baby.

    With P, well he is explaining to me, in his emails, what is going on in his life. It’s clearly hectic. It was already quite hectic before the pandemic, to the point where I was already questioning whether he did have room for me in his life. And it has become worse with the pandemic. I believe him, when he explains to me how busy he is. But for me, deep down, this does not justify his failure to take 5 minutes, just a couple times a week, to write a few lines. He was able to write much more often before and his life was hectic back then, so why not now? If I am not worth 5 minutes a couple of times a week, then what am I worth in his eyes? Does he not want to know how I am doing? So I do not have to makes excuses for him. Rather, the similarity to my relationship with my ex is that I am still being understanding and patient with a man, hoping that things will get better.

    When we spoke about my separation, P did not seem to fear me asking more from him. What he told me was that he might lose me to another man now that I was single.

    The reality of P’s partnership I know quite a bit about. He stays with her for his children. Coming from a broken home – is father was completely absent, he never met him- P’s priority are his children. He wants to be there for them. He feels that his partner is focused on her business, on building it for their children, leaving no room for their love life. He says that they consulted with 2 therapists to try to make things better. They diagnosed her as asexual, and one of them suggested that perhaps P could find another woman to fill his sexual needs (like me, he has a strong libido). His partner was never opened to it, so after a while, he decided to find someone. That’s when we met.

    Writing these lines, I am realizing that one thing that has been tormenting me about my relationship to him is that I feel that he broke my trust. When we started emailing back and forth, I told him that I was looking to find a friend with whom to also develop sexual intimacy. Because I could not – and still cannot – see myself just having sex without some sort of affection towards the other person. He completely agreed and said that this was exactly what he was looking for. When I was writing to him about my hesitations and worries with regards to my relationship with my partner, he encouraged me to open up and explicitly said that he really wanted to be my friend. And then, after we met for the first time, I felt him pull back a bit. He started writing less often, apologizing when he did not write for several days and explaining what had kept him. I feel betrayed because he has been acting less and less as a friend. I wrote him, the other day, that I felt like I had lost a friend and did not know why. He answered that his life was hectic, that he was having a hard time coping with the pandemic, that he really missed me and often thought about me. His emails are actually really sweet. But then I wonder, if things are so difficult, why is he not reaching out to me more? I did offer to lend him an ear.

    So where I always end up is OK, I just have to be patient. Wait for this crazy period to come to an end, and then see what happens.

    I did express optimism, didn’t I? 🙂 I think that writing here is really helping me.

    Thank you, Anita. Take care.

    Isabelle

    #354232
    Ravi
    Participant

    Hi Isabelle,

    Thank you for getting back to my post.

    Incompletion is whole and sadness is a part of it. All other negativities are the part of the same whole.

    I am in full agreement with you about our innate need for companionship, intimacy, longingness.

    “If I am not worth 5 minutes a couple of times a week, then what am I worth in his eyes?”

    But this is what I am trying to explain. You are making your self-worth based on him and his actions.

    “…down, this does not justify his failure to take 5 minutes”

    Every expectation is about him, he not emailing, he not finding, him not writing the way he used to write earlier.

    And Expectations lead to frustrations, most of the time. But if it is a “detached” one it won’t be difficult and if its an “attached” one they are going to lead to issues you are facing now. But its an inner work and right now you may not be ready just like you said.

    “I do not know how to.”

    This is why I am here. To suggest practical healing techniques (long term) and not just comforting words (temporary) where you feel lighter just by speaking/writing out.

    I suggest you to practice the ancient Hawaiian technique of Ho’oponopono of self healing and forgiveness to work on your sadness, or even any other issues of the “spiritual” heart. There are articles on the web and videos on YouTube. I suggest you to NOT allow the mind to get into how/why it works. Just start doing the simple practice continuously for 21 days and I will be happy to know your progress.

     

     

    #354286
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Isabelle:

    You are welcome. Yes, you did express optimism.

    “The excuses I used for my ex were that he was stressed, unhappy with his job.. Unhappy with life in general.. I thought I was partly responsible for his unhappiness, for neglecting him when my son was a baby”- reads like you viewed your ex as a baby/ young child, as if he was not yet responsible for his behavior, and you tolerated his bursts of anger and abusive behavior.

    Regarding P, you asked: “Does he not want to know how I am doing?”- I think that he doesn’t want to know how you are doing because if he did want to know, he would have sent you an email asking you: how are you doing?

    “the similarity to my relationship with my ex is that I am still being understanding and patient with a man, hoping that things get better”-

    – it is nice that you are understanding with him, but understand everything that there is to understand about him and you: he is distressed about the pandemic and so are you. He has children that he cares for and you have a child that I care for. He has a job, and so do  you. He is busy and so are you. You want to know how he is doing with the pandemic, his children, his job and his life otherwise, but he doesn’t want to know how you are doing with the pandemic, your child, your job, and your life otherwise.

    “P’s priority are his children. He feels that his partner is focused on her business, on building it for their children, leaving no room for their love life… 2 therapists.. diagnosed her as asexual, and one of them suggested that perhaps P could find another woman to fill his sexual needs.. His partner was never open to it, so after a while, he decided to find someone. That’s when we met.. When we started emailing back and forth, I told him that I was looking to find a friend with whom to also develop sexual intimacy.. He completely agreed and said that this was exactly what he was looking for.. explicitly said that he really wanted to be my friend. And then, after we met for the first time, I felt him pull back a bit. He started writing less often, apologizing when he did not write for several days and explaining what had kept him… He answered that.. he really missed me and often thought about me. His emails are actually really sweet. But then I wonder, if things are so difficult, why is he not reaching out to me more? I did offer to lend him an ear. So where I always end up is  OK, I just have to be patient. Wait for this crazy period to come to an end, and then see what happens.”

    I typed the above because it helps me process information when I type. Here are my thoughts:

    1. If his children are indeed his priority and his partner is focuses on building a business for his children, then he and his partner have something very much in common: the children being his priority and hers. This means that they are working together for a common goal, to advance the well  being of their highest priority: the children they share.

    2. He reads like a nice guy. I don’t necessarily mean a genuinely nice guy, but apparently a nice guy: writing sweet emails, apologizing, eager to agree with you (telling you that he too wants friendship, not only sex), telling you he misses you and is thinking about you, etc.

    But lets look at him a bit deeper: he told you that he saw two therapists and that “one of them suggested that perhaps P could find another woman to fill his sexual needs”, meaning the thought didn’t occur to him.  It occurred to a helping professional, a therapist whom he went  to see for help. So he did what he was supposed to do: follow the advice of a professional, and that’s how he met you.

    But wait, the therapist suggested that he “could find another woman to fill his sexual needs”, not that he could find another woman to fill his friendship and sexual needs.

    He didn’t have unfulfilled friendship needs before the pandemic, and before he met you. He had unfulfilled sexual needs. Seems to me that when he told you that he too  wants to be your friend because you said it first and he reciprocated, not because he really meant it.

    anita

    #354288
    Isabelle
    Participant

    Hello Ravi,

    My understanding of what you are conveying to me is that my current suffering comes from my attachment to the outcome of this relationship. Expectations are making me suffer. This is right. I am suffering because I want him to be there like he once was, and he is not. Hence, my desire to find a way to put an end to this relationship. To not feel this longing for his presence anymore.

    On the other hand, you agree that we all have needs for human connection. So the key to ending suffering is to find a way to detach oneself from this need? Or find a way to fill it without others? But then what is the purpose of human connection? I don’t understand.

    This is more or less about my self-worth per say. I don’t think that I am unworthy because he distances himself from me. I do not find myself especially worthy, but the reason for this is not his failure to engage with me as often as I would like. I interpret  his behavior as meaning that I am not worth much in his eyes. Maybe I would feel a bit better if I knew that the reason for his behavior is not that I am unworthy of his friendship. Because that would mean that when all this is over, we may pick up where we left before this pandemic hit. That it is not about me. But in the meantime, I would still suffer because my need for connection is not filled.

    Thank you for recommending Ho’oponopono, I will certainly give it a try and let you know the outcome! 🙂

    Take care Ravi,

    Isabelle

    #354292
    Isabelle
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Yes. Your analysis of my situation with P is accurate. Thank you for taking the time to present things clearly. Now I see it: I was hoping that there was an explanation for his behavior other than “He doesn’t care enough to make the time.” But he clearly does not. I think that it’s time to admit it and move on. This is painful. It brings me back to when I was 9, when I finally had to admit to myself that my dad was probably never going to call or write more than once a year.

    I knew that I was taking a risk by getting attached to P. In the end, I still think that it was worth it because my relationship with him did help me to get out of a toxic relationship.

    I don’t know what else to say. I’ll take the time to process all this and try Ho’oponopono, as Ravi kindly suggested.

    Take care Anita,

    Isabelle

    #354296
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Isabelle:

    Thank you for wishing me well and good wishes back to you and your son.

    “This is painful. It brings me back to when I was 9, when I finally had to admit to myself that my dad was probably never going to call or write more than once a year”- that must have been very, very difficult for you, especially since your mother was emotionally detached from you. This means that.. there was no one there for you???

    anita

    #354306
    Isabelle
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    By “no one there for you”, I guess you mean an adult. There was no adult. I did have siblings though, so I was no completely alone. I actually was the one taking care of my mom. I could feel how fragile she was and I wanted to make her feel better because I was afraid that I would lose her too. She later told me that she was suicidal during this period, so my fear was justified.

    Isabelle

    #354318
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Isabelle:

    You were not physically alone, but you felt very much alone because your mother was fragile. My mother was fragile all through the years. She repeatedly talked about suicide, her own. I was scared and weak, but I made believe that I have the power to keep her alive and  make her happy one day, if only.. and if only.

    Is your mother alive, and how is your relationship with her like?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by anita.
    #354326
    Isabelle
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I completely understand what you mean about wanting to make your mom happy. I still wish this today! Her life has been so difficult and when I can, I try to make it a bit better. Somehow it feels like it is healing me when I am able to bring joy to her. Once I was able to take her with me to Belgium where I was attending a conference. It was great. I hope I can do this again someday.

    So my relationship with her has not changed much, I still want to take care of her. I try to be careful though, to do only what I really want to. She tends to make poor life choices sometimes, and ends up in trouble, financially and psychologically. I help when I can, but I no longer feel it is my responsibility to save her.

    How about your relation to your mom?

    Isabelle

    #354332
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Isabelle:

    I ended all  contact with my mother seven years ago.  There was no other way for me to reach a semblance of sanity otherwise.

    It is interesting, the title of your thread is “Confused and seeking guidance on an unconventional relationship”, meaning a very new relationship with a man, P. But the most powerful unconventional relationship in your mind and life, by far, is the one with your mother.

    It is unconventional for a child to emotionally take care of her mother: a child cannot do that, it is impossible, because a child is naturally not strong enough to do so. It is supposed to be the other way around: a mother is supposed to emotionally take care of her child, and the mother is supposed to be strong enough to do so.

    When you took your mother with you to Belgium, you put a smile on her face. You didn’t heal her and you didn’t make her happy, you know. Similar to when I had my mother visit New York City long ago- it brought a smile to her face for a few weeks, but did nothing to make any difference in her mind or life.

    anita

    #354334
    Isabelle
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    It must have been hard to end contacts with your mom.

    Your observation on the title of my thread is indeed interesting. I have often heard that our relationship troubles are always somehow related to our relationships with our parents. I had doubts about this… but it seems appropriate in my case.

    Yes, mothers are supposed to be strong enough to take care of their child. Sometimes they are not. But if they are struggling, they should at least try their best and show their child that they are trying their best. As a mother, I cannot comprehend why my mom did not try more. She disappointed me over and over again. Why do I still try, albeit reasonably, to bring her joy despite this? I know that I will never heal her. She will probably never change. But somehow, it makes me feel good to put a smile on her face. Today it mother’s day. How interesting that we are exchanging on this topic today. 🙂

    I still do not know what is a healthy relationship, but I am trying to find out. I wrote an email to P earlier, telling him that I am ending our relationship. This time I sent it. I am sad, but relieved at the same time.

    Isabelle

    #354338
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Isabelle:

    I didn’t know it is Mothers’ Day, today: Happy Mother’s Day to you!

    (I am not a mother).

    “Why do I still try.. to bring her joy?”- because you always have tried, so you keep trying.

    “somehow, it makes me feel good to put a smile on her face”- I know the feeling. It is like a drug that you want more of, that good feeling.

    It made me feel that I had some power in that powerless reality, like I had a mission, a purpose, a hope to reach that top of the mountain, eventually. It is the hope and love of a little girl that doesn’t die unless intentionally (and with hard work and lots of time) put to an end.

    The problem with continuing that mission, is the high cost to you, and that cost is in this sentence in your most recent post: “I still do not know what is a healthy relationship”.

    (Congrats for sending P the email you sent him!)

    anita

    #354356
    Isabelle
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    It is kind of like a drug.

    So you believe that keeping a relationship with my mother prevents me from developing more healthy relationships? I do not understand why they cannot co-exist. Maybe because keeping a link with her makes me unable to fully see everything that is wrong with this relationship, therefore making me less discerning in my relationships more generally?

    Thank you for your congratulations. You really helped a lot. I needed someone to present things clearly to me. 🙂

    Isabelle

     

     

    #354360
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Isabelle:

    You are welcome. Keeping your relationship with your mother is keeping you fused with her in a way that prevents you from experiencing better mental health.

    Mentally, a child is not separated from her mother, the two are one for a long time. If things go well, if the mother is strong enough and dependably supportive, the child will gradually separate from her mother (it is called separation-individuation, a term in child development).

    When a child grows up with a very fragile mother and the roles are reversed, the mental separation from the mother is far from adequate, and the child and later, the adult child, is .. fused with a fragile mother. In my case, as a result of this fusion (the mental separation far from adequate), I felt on one hand very weak and inferior, and on the other hand, I felt strong, even superior, and overall, I was mentally unwell for decades, my subjective experience of life was that of severe anxiety and overall misery.

    After I ended all contact with her, it took me years of hard work to finally mentally separate from her. So warning: if you ever consider ending contact with your mother, take into account that it will take time and work and an on again off again moments of triumph and distress,  to complete this mental separation I am talking about, leading to mental health.

    One more thing: not everything is reversible, and not all symptoms caused by an abusive experience with one’s mother can be undone, so that’s another thing to consider.

    anita

     

    #354394
    Isabelle
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    This is very interesting, I know exactly what you are talking about. Going back and forth between feeling weak and inferior, and strong and superior. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have lived with anxiety since a very young age. Around 5, I started having violent migraines that would make me throw up. I also had night terrors. I have had periods where things were better, but it never lasts.

    I do not know what I will do regarding my mom. Your remarks certainly have given me food for thought.

    I am pretty sure that I will never completely heal from this. Knowing that the intense pain that I feel when I am in a bad place will keep coming back is one reason why I entertain suicidal thoughts. There were periods where I was able to live in the present moment. This is when I was most happy. When the pain started to creep up, I would slow down, go under my rock, as I call it, and remind myself that everything is temporary. Eventually, the pain would recede. It is difficult to keep this way of life. Often, I do not find a way to face my responsibilities while giving myself the time and space needed to calm things down. I am trying to achieve some sort of balance.

    Isabelle

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