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Going through a separation

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  • #408101
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Dan:

    You shared that you were sexually abused by your brother, and that the last time he abused you was when he was 16 or 17, and you were 8 or 9: “I have no resentment toward my brother, we still talk and see one another on occasion“, you wrote back in Sept 28.

    Your current lack of felt- anger toward your older brother is not a result of the two of you discussing the abuse, your brother sincerely and deeply apologizing and offering to make amends to you, paying for and attending psychotherapy with you so that both of you can heal the relationship, and paying for individual therapy for you, so that you can heal from  the sexual abuse that he inflicted on you. Therefore, your lack of felt- anger toward him is not a result of healing, but a result of you repressing and dissociating from your anger toward your brother.

    Dissociating from your anger does not mean healing; it means blocking the possibility of healing because when you are not aware that you are angry, you are not motivated to heal. It is as if, (in regard to your sexual abuse): no anger=> nothing bad happened => nothing to resolve, nothing to heal.

    Like I suggested to you in my Sept 30 post, reconnecting with your repressed or suppressed emotions (said in other words: re-associating with your dissociated emotions) in the context of quality psychotherapy will be best for you. You NEED to be more aware of your emotions in order to be motivated to heal; you need to be more aware of your emotions in order to make better, wiser choices in all areas of your life.

    anita

    #408712
    Dan
    Participant

    @ Anita. @Tee

    Thank you. Sorry I was away for a bit and just logged on. I will be talking about things with my therapist.

    What I’m having problems with now is feeling a lot of loneliness. I miss my friend (my wife) and the way things happened I’m having trouble understanding. What I mean is that we were seeing one another after the separation for a while and things were going well but then she just stopped. So I haven’t gotten any closure at all and I feel like I did something wrong but I know I didn’t but that’s where my mind goes.

    I know she has a ton of responsibility and probably doesn’t have time for me and I should know that by now but it’s hard to accept. We were supposed to go to a concert in November as I had bought tickets prior to Covid and when we were together back in May she asked if I still wanted to go. Then a few weeks ago (the last time we spoke) I asked if she still wanted to go and she said she didn’t think it was a good idea. That sort of broke my heart all over again.  I’m just struggling with everything that happened

     

     

    #408713
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Dan:

    I am sorry that you are still struggling with everything. I’ll reply further in about 10 hours from now.

    anita

    #408722
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Dan:

    “I’m having trouble understanding… we were seeing one another after the separation for a while and things were going well, but then she just stopped… I feel like I did something wrong, but I know I didn’t, but…”-

    -I went back to the beginning of your thread, reading your posts, trying to understand her WHY. Some of the problems in the course of the relationship: “her son aged 10 started pulling away from me… our house got smaller and smaller with her and I both working from home… my wife needed some space… I do consider myself a bit clingy, needing reassurance… Then her mom moved in with us in January… I do believe that she wasn’t getting good sleep being next to me. I do snore quite loudly”.

    A couple of months after you moved out and the separation commenced (end of January 2022), you emailed her in regard to an incredible settlement on the house that you generously gave her, she asked you to come over and she ran into your arms, rekindled the relationship during about 4 weekends when her kids were at their dad’s, and the two of you were alone in the house. She told you that she loved you and didn’t want to lose you. But at the closing of the part-time reunion month, “she said she needed a bit of space” and showed no interest in rekindling the relationship ever since.

    It seems to me, Dan, that her WHY is that she fell out of love with you, a reason that almost always is involved with people ending relationships. Her loving feelings awakened for a month and then… gone again and hasn’t awakened since. The process of her losing the loving feelings for you was not a one-time event, but a process with ups and downs, and the down part has been consistent for more than 6 months so far, hasn’t it?

    anita

    #408733
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Dan,

    I will try to give you my understanding of why she might have pulled out of the relationship. What stands out to me is that she asked for space throughout the course of your relationship: she asked for space multiple times during covid, when you both worked from home, her children were living with you all of the time, and the house “got smaller and smaller”. But she also asked for space during your rekindled romance, when you saw each other only on the weekends and spent fun time together, without her children around.

    I can imagine why she felt overwhelmed during the covid period, with all those people she needed to take care of. However, it seems that keeping a leisurely relationship with you and meeting you only for the weekends, also led her to feeling overwhelmed after a relatively short time. And so she put a halt on it.

    I don’t necessarily think that she fell out of love with you, but that she is conflicted. It could be that on one hand, she likes spending time with you, but on the other, she feels guilty for being with you, since her children, specially her son, sees you as a rival, as someone who is taking his mother away from him.

    May I ask you – when you were suggesting those mini vacations (to which she never agreed) – did you invite her children to come along, or it was supposed to be a getaway for just the two of you? Because children are very sensitive to things like that, and if they feel that you don’t want them around, they will feel jealous and will feel like you are taking their mother away from them. I am mentioning this because you’ve said that your biggest need was to spend time alone with her. So perhaps her children felt it – and they felt jealous and excluded?

    As I said, it seems to me that the reason she’s pulled away is her being conflicted, feeling guilty about spending time with you because to her it might feel like betraying her children, not being a good enough mother.

    There can be two reasons for this guilt: one could be an irrational feeling of guilt, where she feels guilty for having a life outside of being a mother. Another reason, or an additional reason, could be your behavior. Namely, there might be a certain pull, a certain vibe coming from you, where you prefer to spend time alone with her, without her children, and they feel it, even though you never said it out loud. I am not claiming there is such a behavior or vibe on your part, just putting it out there for you to examine. But if there is, it might contribute to them feeling jealous of you and seeing you as a rival. Which in turn makes her feel guilty and not wanting to have to choose between you and her children. And ultimately choosing her children, of course.

    So to summarize, this is my take on why she might feel guilty. It’s either because of (1) her own woundedness and the inability to set boundaries with her children, or (2) she might feel guilty because there is a certain dynamic of rivalry between you and her children, specially between you and her son, which she doesn’t like, or (3) it could be because of both of the above.

    What do you think?

     

    #408739
    Dan
    Participant

    @Tee

    I wish I could pm you to talk more openly but yes I think those reasons make a lot of sense. She had said a few times prior to the separation that she thought the kids were too young and I agree that we moved quickly into everything. I wish now we hadn’t moved so quickly. My gut tells me that it’s not because she doesn’t love me anymore and that’s not me in denial, it’s something I as and sure you know that you can sense.
    When I asked for a mini vacation it was to have just a small honeymoon which we didn’t really have so the idea was to go on the weekends when the kids were away. And I look back now and see that maybe I should have suggested bringing the kids. I know kids can sense these things and although it wasn’t my intent at all to make them feel excluded, I can see how that may have happened. I feel terrible for that.  And when I look back while we were seeing one another after the separation, she told me that the kids came back home crying because they knew I was over. She told them that she was allowed to see me while they were away but maybe it was just too much.  I feel so bad as I love the kids, but I’m not their dad and I can see how negative thoughts or beliefs can arise. Thank you Tee for your insight. It does help me to try and understand things a bit better.

    I get really down on myself thinking what more could have I done?  I’m stuck ruminating a lot wishing things weren’t the way they are. I’m really trying to move on and let the universe play out as it will but it’s still very hard. And our anniversary is in a couple of days too 🙁

    #408752
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Dan,

    this is very telling:

    She told them that she was allowed to see me while they were away

    And she wasn’t allowed to be with you while they were around… It’s like her children were the authority who decided whether she is allowed to be with you or not. To me it sounds like a school girl negotiating with her parents that she is allowed to go out to party as long as she comes home by the set time. As if the roles were reversed and she was a teenager following the rules set by her “parents”. Her children take the role of the parents, i.e. the authority figures who set the rules. And she – the mother – takes the role of a teenage daughter who is trying to follow those rules and please the “parents”.

    Do you think it’s possible that this kind of role reversal took place in her mind? And that she has two sides within herself: one is a fun-loving, adventurous teenage girl (when she is alone with you), and the other is a guilt-ridden care-taker and people-pleaser (when she is around her children and her own parents, and even around you, when you need a lot of care-taking and pampering?).

    Of course, I might be reading too much into her use of the word “allowed”, but I thought I’d mention it, in case there is really something to it…

     

    #408764
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Dan:

    I want to complete my last reply to you in the hope that it will be helpful: In your original post more than a month ago (Sept 16), you wrote: “We both love each other but I guess the timing is bad… I want to hold onto hope that maybe once the kids get a bit older then we could reunite. She even told me this. But for now we aren’t seeing one another and we haven’t been communicating and it’s been hard“- right from the beginning of your thread, you understood that the separation had a lot to do with her being a mother to two minor-age children from a previous relationship, and in your very first post, you established the fact that you love her very much and that you want to reunite with her.

    Still in the quote above, you wrote that she loves you (“We love each other”). In the five pages of your thread,  there’s been a lot of analysis of the marriage and separation, including some analysis of your past and her past before you entered each other’s lives. Such analyses can be very helpful if and when the two of you did reunite (or in the context of a future relationship with another woman), but for now- as there is no evidence of a motivation on her part to reunite with you- such analyses, seems to me, are keeping you stuck heartbroken, overthinking and ruminating.

    Your love and longing for her motivate you to want to get together and spend time with her. This is what feelings/ emotions are about: motivating us to take some action.  You repeatedly initiated contact with her and she turned you down. This means that she is not motivated to get together with you. It is possible that she secretly longs to be with you, experiencing loving feelings for you, but is not sharing them with you. But it is also possible that… she no longer experiences loving feelings for you. Her guilt (in regard to not being a good-enough mother to her children by having you in her life,  and in regard to not having been a good wife to you), may have “killed” her loving feelings to you because she associates guilt with you, and therefore: No Dan (in her life) = No Guilt. From personal experience, guilt chases loving feelings away like nothing else.

    Coming to think about it, maybe you can check with her if the above is true. If it is true for her, then she may feel a relief from her guilt by knowing that you understand her love vs guilt conflict, and if there still is love underneath her guilt, that love may rise to the surface once again. Initiating a direct communication on the topic of her guilt may be a step forward:  either toward a reunion or toward giving up your hope for a reunion. I wish you peace of mind today and every day as you move forward.

    anita

    #408767
    Dan
    Participant

    @Anita.
    I know she has guilt she told me that. However, I also know that she still loves me as she told me that as well. You’re right, she doesn’t want to have communication with me right now. I honestly think it would be too hard for the both of us if we saw or even communicated with eachother from time to time. I would ask the question that you posed but we aren’t speaking however at some point we will and it’s a good question to ask, although I think I know the answer.


    @Tee

    I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head as far as her having almost two different lives, the fun loving and the giver people pleaser. Her boundaries with her kids were almost non existent and I know she’s just doing the best she can having been a single mom before meeting me. I’m really trying to see any positives throughout this whole thing. I mean perhaps had we not separated we may have started resenting one another. Things may have become bad. There’s no way to know this but things happen for a reason. I know she has a lot of responsibility and I’m hoping that perhaps at some point down the road we may reunite.  Who knows? I have a lot of things on my side that I can improve and I think before I ever get back into a relationship I want to feel better in my own skin.

    #408773
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Dan,

    I think you would need to accept that for now, she isn’t accessible because her life situation hasn’t really changed since your separation: her children haven’t grown up and they haven’t suddenly changed their mind about you. She still feels guilty for being with you, and as anita said, by not having you in her life, she is at least relieved from some of that guilt.

    I am sure that she feels guilty even now, trying to be a “perfect” mother and please everyone. But at least she doesn’t need to please you in addition to pleasing her children, and she doesn’t need to be guilt-tripped by her children for seeing you. So two sources of guilt are gone, which makes her life a little easier. (Just to clarify: I think she felt a responsibility to please you too, because when she asked for separation, she said that she can’t be the woman you deserve. That wording shows that she felt guilty for not being able to please you and fulfill your expectations.)

    She as a person would have to do a lot of work on herself  – specially on her people pleasing tendencies – to really be free from guilt and be able to have healthy relationships (including a healthy relationship with you). Right now it’s not possible, and it won’t be possible for a long long time, unless she decides to work on herself.

    So you would need to accept that she – being a person plagued by guilt – will likely not want to get back together with you. She might do so for a short while, but her guilt would return very soon, and she would ask for “space” again.

    I am noticing two tendencies in you: one is to try to move on and work on yourself (e.g. you asked to know more about self-parenting), and the other is falling into despair and trying to soothe your pain with substances (“I’ve also been sabotaging myself a bit with drinking and stuff. Im having a hard time. I know what I need to do I just can’t get started and would rather drown my pain.)

    A third part of you is hoping that she might decide to reunite sometime in the future (I’m hoping that perhaps at some point down the road we may reunite.)

    I think it would help you at this point to accept that this reunion – if nothing changes in her life or in her personality – will likely not happen. The sooner you accept it, the easier it will be. I know it’s hard, because the inner child in you – who needs her so much – is hoping for a miracle. Your inner child is hoping that some day things will change and she will take you back. That she will at least want to spend the weekends with you, and meet your unmet childhood needs (to be cherished, valued, to be nurtured, held in her arms, etc).

    Your wounded inner child is looking for a magical solution for his pain…. but unfortunately, Dan, it won’t happen. You need to take your inner child into your own arms and hold him, figuratively speaking. You are your own savior. She isn’t. No one else is.

    I do hope that slowly but surely, you will accept this reality. It’s not easy because there are no magical solutions, but it’s the only way. There is a saying: “No one said it will be easy, but it will be worth it.” I think this applies perfectly to your situation… It will be worth it, Dan, to finally start healing those childhood wounds that make your life miserable in the present. The fact that you are in therapy is great.. Keep at it, and let’s keep our conversation here too, if you find it helpful.

     

    #409019
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Dan,

    You said:

    I get really down on myself thinking what more could have I done?  I’m stuck ruminating a lot wishing things weren’t the way they are.

    In this post I’ll try to explain why in my opinion, your relationship didn’t succeed, and what both you and her could have done differently. I’ll say it right away: I think that your relationship didn’t succeed because of unhealthy patterns in both you and her. It’s not just your fault, and it’s not just her fault.

    Let me give you an example. You said you wanted to go on mini vacations, but she always refused. You said it was because you didn’t go on a honeymoon and wanted to make up for that.

    It’s normal for a married couple to go on a honeymoon, and to go on a honeymoon alone. So if she refused that, because she didn’t want to leave her children – that shows an unbalanced approach, where she feels guilty for doing something for herself. For having alone time with her new husband.

    Besides, her children aren’t that young as she claims. 10 and 14 isn’t so young, they don’t need constant supervision. So she could have left them with their dad for a few days. Claiming they are young and using it as an excuse to not set any boundaries is a mistake on her part.

    Returning to the mini vacation example: At the other end of the spectrum would be a scenario where you would want to go on mini vacations exclusively without her children. Where you would say “the weekend is coming, the kids are their dad’s – why don’t the two of us go to XYZ place and have some fun together?” I am not saying this is what you were pushing for, or hoping for, but it would have been an unbalanced approach too, because it would exclude the children altogether and make them feel unwanted.

    If your wife was more on one end of the spectrum (never want to go anywhere without her children), and you were more on the other end (preferred not to go to trips with her children) – then it would have caused friction.

    I do want to say I understand you: you got a deal which you didn’t want, because covid came and her children ended up spending all of their time with their mother and you. And you didn’t get to have any time with her alone. So going for a mini vacation just the two of you, would have been nice from time to time. And it wouldn’t have been selfish to ask for that.

    But if what her children felt from you is the vibe of impatience, something like: “God, when are they going to leave already so I can be alone with my wife?” – then they would have been offended and start turning against you. I am not saying this is what you were thinking, at least not consciously, but unconsciously you might have been giving off such a vibe.

    But it must have been hard for you, and you did find yourself in a difficult situation. Let me turn again to your question:

    What more could have I done?  I’m stuck ruminating a lot wishing things weren’t the way they are.

    Well, if your wife didn’t have so much guilt, she would have understood your need and would have gone with you on one or two mini vacations (provided that it was possible to travel during covid?).

    At the same time, if you weren’t so needy, you probably wouldn’t have been so negatively affected by the living arrangements during covid (being stuck with her children 24/7), and you wouldn’t have felt so deprived when she was attending to her children. So maybe there wouldn’t have been this rivalry between you and her children.

    But this is only maybe, because if she spoiled them (and probably she did, because you said she had no boundaries with them, e.g. she lets her son sleep in her bed), then even if you were more patient and less needy, they might have still been jealous of you. I don’t know.

    Anyway, to wrap this up: it seems to me that your responsibility in the breakup of the relationship is in being too needy, i.e. expecting her to meet all or almost all of your emotional needs (to feel loved, cared for, appreciated, seen, validated). She was your best friend (and maybe your only friend?), and it seems you depended on her to feel good about yourself. Due to this neediness, you might have unconsciously felt jealous of her children, which they picked up on.

    While her responsibility in the breakup of the relationship, as I see it, is her strong feeling of guilt for not being able to please everybody, as well as feeling guilty for having needs of her own. Depriving herself of the things she loves, so she can please others.

    What do you say? Does this seem like a plausible explanation to you?

     

    #409306
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Dan,

    how have you been?

    I would like to comment on something that you’ve said recently. You said you feel terrible for not having suggested to bring your wife’s children to those mini vacations:

    I look back now and see that maybe I should have suggested bringing the kids. I know kids can sense these things and although it wasn’t my intent at all to make them feel excluded, I can see how that may have happened. I feel terrible for that. … I feel so bad as I love the kids, but I’m not their dad and I can see how negative thoughts or beliefs can arise.

    Please don’t blame yourself. First, you were in a tough situation, your wife’s children spending almost all of the time with you, being closed in one place 24/7. They didn’t go to school, you worked from home, so it was literally 24/7 with them. It was only natural that you needed a break. Wanting to have some time off in a situation like that doesn’t make you a bad stepfather.

    And secondly, even if you did show some impatience sometimes, hoping that your wife would give you more attention – it was because of ONE part of you: your wounded inner child. You were otherwise a good stepfather and a good husband. You said you helped your wife a lot with the children, and you also gave her a great settlement, leaving the house to her and her children. This shows you are a good, kind, generous man. Your neediness didn’t show in the financial aspect – you generously provided for your wife and stepchildren.

    So please don’t be so hard on yourself. And have compassion for yourself, specially for that needy part which might have caused you to behave less than optimally. That needy part went through a lot as a young child… He doesn’t need your judgment, but your empathy and understanding. I hope you can realize that…

     

    #409365
    Dan
    Participant

    @Tee

    I tend to log on here when I’m having a down day. Today is one of those days. But reading your last post literally brought tears to my eyes. In fact they are running down my cheeks right now. I want to thank you for your empathy and understanding. It’s been a tough go and I’ve always been hard on myself. A lot of negative self talk. I know I was a good husband and step father and I guess that’s what’s been hard about all this. My wife and I haven’t spoke at all for about a month now. It was my birthday last week and there was no happy birthday text which kinda hurt. But our anniversary was the day before my birthday so a lot of feelings going on. Maybe it would be too hard for either of us to be in contact with one another, at least that’s what I tell myself as to why she stopped all communication. I don’t know. It’s just hard.

    #409377
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Dan,

    you are welcome, and I meant what I said: you are a good man, and you deserve to be loved and appreciated. The fact that she isn’t showing you that at the moment doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Please know that!

    I’ve always been hard on myself. A lot of negative self talk.

    And this negative self-talk probably started long before you’ve met her, right?

    I know how the inner critic can make our lives miserable, how unworthy we can feel because of it. And then when we suffer a blow like this – when the person we love abandons us – it only confirms the horrible stuff we’ve been telling ourselves: that indeed we’re a nobody, that we are unlovable, that nobody will ever want us.

    But that’s not true, of course. It’s just a story, a narrative that we’ve been telling ourselves for many many years. It’s a lie, but we live our lives as if it were true.

    It was my birthday last week and there was no happy birthday text which kinda hurt.

    I can imagine it hurt, and I think not just because she didn’t bother to congratulate, but also because it “confirmed” again what your inner critic has been telling you: that you are unworthy and unlovable. You might have interpreted her lack of happy birthday text as another rejection, and perhaps not just a rejection of you as her romantic partner, but also rejection of you as a person. And it hurts bad… Am I right in thinking that?

    Maybe it would be too hard for either of us to be in contact with one another, at least that’s what I tell myself as to why she stopped all communication.

    Yes, very likely. She knows she cannot promise you anything and she doesn’t want to string you along, like rekindle the relationship and then put it on ice again…. as she has done already this spring. She doesn’t want that. And she probably can’t do the casual “let’s stay friends” type of thing, because it’s hard to stay friends with so many conflicted feelings. So she figures it’s better not to write at all.

    But that doesn’t mean that she thinks you are an unworthy and unlovable person, who doesn’t deserve a birthday greeting. And even if she thought that – which I highly doubt – you ARE NOT an unworthy and unlovable person. Your birthday should be celebrated, and you should celebrate it too because you are a gift to the world! You are special and unique, like each of us is, and you should celebrate your birthday. And you should surround yourself with people who will celebrate you and your birthday!

    I do wish you a happy belated birthday, dear Dan! I hope you can see your own worth, diminish the voice of the inner critic, and write another story of your life.

    #411071
    Dan
    Participant

    @Tee

    How are you? About a month since I posted here. Nothing really has changed. I’m still sad about the whole thing and depressed most days. I know things take time to heal but it’s still hard. Just thought I’d say hello and reach out to you since you have some good words. Hope all is well.

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