October 9, 2018 at 5:16 am #229925
My ex boyfriend and I started dating long distance almost 2 years ago (we met at a wedding), became official 1.5 years ago. He has a 3 year old son who I adore and met when we became official. We fell in love hard and fast. When we were dating I got a great job in his city and moved for him. Everything felt meant to be.
Around six months of dating officially, I began to have doubts—he was pressuring me to move in, wasn’t tying up strings with his son’s mother, etc, etc., and I was having general anxiety about stepparenting. He lost is job and then we fought a LOT, he was moody, snappy, etc. That being said, we’ve had the most fun together I’ve ever had in my life. We have shared dreams, goals, interests, and sexual compatability (I have my own issues with this), and so many weird things worked serendipitously in our favor.
He got an amazing job and things started to get better… Except for my doubts. I talked to people on stepparenting message boards and they said some doubt was normal, but mine seemed extreme. I tend to be a hesitant person, very indecisive and prone to anxiety. I’m afraid of commitment and so I wonder if this played. But sometimes he would say something very rude to me, and I would think in a small part of my brain “this will never work.” Even during the happy times, I sometimes felt guilty because I knew deep down something was wrong. I spoke to my therapist, I talked to other stepmoms, and I did everything to try to unpack this feeling but it never went away. I was waking up every morning feeling anxious. There were times when I felt AMAZING when we were together and was so excited for our future—he was my best friend, we watched movies, cuddled, talked about dreams, traveled, made breakfast, told secrets, and all of that was SO FUN and filled with love… There was always attraction, always passion. But I definitely couldn’t ignore the fear.
I realized I was taking out my doubt in the form of resentment—starting fights with my SO over stupid stuff. When this happened, I realized I needed to sort out my brain and discover what it was that caused me so much stress because we both didn’t deserve that. So after some really hard talks, I broke it off. We spoke on and off for a month, him trying to coerce me into getting back together, promising to change a lot of the things I had issues with. Some of them were major and I wanted to process that.
During this conversation I confessed my doubts about stepparenting, and he said I had been with him and his son for a year and why now was I so scared? I wasn’t hoping for this… I wanted him to help me navigate through the doubts so that I could have more confidence (which is what my therapist encouraged) that we work through my fears together. Then three weeks later he called me and told me he was getting his form of closure—he was going to stop contacting me, it was too hard for him to be reaching out, that he loved me, and wished me the best.
Since that convo (it’s been about two weeks) I have been an absolute mess and feeling like I lost my best friend and it’s my fault.I’m traveling right now (home with my parents for a week for a wedding) and I miss him, his son, and I want them both here. I feel like I left my family and I feel intense regret. I am NOT taking the fact that he has a child lightly—I don’t want to disrupt this child’s life or cause pain, and that’s why I’m not reaching out. But I also miss him so much and want him to be my stepkid. I’m starting to realizing the stepparenting wasn’t where I had doubts, but more of a general combination of various things. For whatever reason, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t silence what I feared was my “intuition” telling me it wasn’t the best choice of relationship. I’m still wondering if maybe my intuition is telling me more to approach the relationship differently, to better communicate my feelings with SO rather than hide them, and if there’s any way we can make this work. My family is not super close, and I feel like I messed up my chances of having one.
SO and I would definitely have some things to work on, but I’m wondering if you truly love someone, if it’s possible to make it work even when the circumstances are so difficult.
I don’t know what to do. Many days I feel like he’s my soulmate, my best friend. Another part of my wonders if I need closure because he got it and I’m still so upset and confused.
I know many people here are going to say “it will get better,” but how? I miss him so much and I’m angry with myself for not being able to make it work. It kills me that I haven’t seen his son in nearly two months, that I can’t watch him grow up. I’m in a different state for a few weeks and so I can’t realistically see him… But oh my god, I miss him so. All of this has really damaged my self-esteem and I’m having trouble seeing the possibility for a happy future. Instead of waking up anxious like I did in the relationship, I wake up sad. Part of me wants to call him to say “let's go to therapy” and another part is hesitant
I feel like my intuition told me to break up with my soulmate and his child—I’m torn between what to do now.October 9, 2018 at 12:01 pm #230015
Dear Little Coconut:
I don't think it is your intuition that told you to break up with him, I think it is fear.
I think it is the same same fear you shared about in your Dec 2014 thread, regarding your professional life: “One morning I want one thing, and the next day I'll want another.. It's so hard to pick one thing. I wish the universe would guide me to that one thing, and help illuminate where I should be and what I should be doing… I just don't know how to take control of my life. It's so scary”.
One day you want him, the next you don't, then you want him again, afraid when with him, afraid without him in your life. “I don't want to keep running around wondering”, you wrote almost four years ago. Well, you are still running around, aren't you?
anitaOctober 9, 2018 at 12:17 pm #230025
OH WOW, this resonated with me hardcore! YES I did say that! And I even went back and looked at that post! Wow.
I am running around, but less so? I traveled a lot, tried a few different careers, and settled on writing. I now work full-time as an editor for an online media company and write plays when I'm not working. I have traveled fairly often and even lived out of my car! I ran around but I grew up… And here I am doing it again.
Thank you for reaching out to me. I hope it's not too late for me to reach back out to him. But more importantly, I want to work on this part of ME and I don't know how I can do it.October 9, 2018 at 12:31 pm #230029
Though to add, I will say that there were a lot of reasons (beyond stepparenting) for why we broke up. My SO was not cool with me traveling, teased me often… Though I'm wondering if these are things we can maybe work on.October 9, 2018 at 12:40 pm #230013
Hey there, Little Coconut!
I'm so sorry that you have been struggling in your relationship, and that things haven't played out the way you wanted them too. I imagine it's probably very frustrating to battle with your intuition so much, especially over a course of such a long time. Let's try to figure out a game plan for you – see what we can do 🙂
First of all, let's discuss the word ‘intuition'. It's a big word. It's heavy with meaning. And I think that this meaning can be changed, mistaken, misread, and misunderstood a great deal, partly because intuition isn't physically tangible – it's immaterial; it's a concept. That doesn't mean I don't believe in intuition – I completely, totally do, in a very significant way – but I think it's something that we can get wrong, sometimes quite a lot of the time. Why am I mentioning this? I'm just bouncing options around, and I wonder if this might be a thing for you. Could you be wrong? I don't mean that your intuition is wrong. I mean, is it definitely an intuition? Because a niggling little feeling inside you might not be an intuition at all – it might be a compulsive thought, a misdirected doubt, a lingering fear…so let's analyze them 🙂
- Compulsive thinking. Something that a lot of us battle with are compulsive, obsessive thoughts. Sometimes they don't feel like thoughts at all. Sometimes they feel like wriggly worms in our brains. Sometimes they feel like intuitions. And there is a chance that you have mistaken a compulsive, intrusive thought as an intuition. For whatever reason (something that only you can truly explore!) you might doubt your boyfriend's love, for example. Or maybe you doubt that you are fit to be a stepmom. Or maybe you think that the wonderful life you have built together is too good to be true, and that it will one day tumble down around you like building blocks. Whatever your thoughts may be, if they are compulsive, intrusive, and obsessive, they will linger. They will keep nagging at you, and there will be an undercurrent of them all the time. But they aren't intuition.
- Misdirected doubt. Let's make a hypothesis. Hypothetically speaking, you doubt your ability to be a good stepmom, you feel a competition between you and your boyfriend's ex, and you fear commitment. Suddenly you have a whole host of doubts, and those doubts translate in your mind as intuition. And so you run with that.
- Lingering fears. Similar to doubts, but less tightly packed, there is also a chance of your anxiety getting the better of you. I have suffered with anxiety since I was a toddler, and I cannot count the times when it has masqueraded as intuition. I used to have intuitive thoughts about a lot of things – and I still do, to this day. But sometimes those intuitive thoughts turn out not to be intuitive thoughts, and instead, lingering anxiety that lasts for years and years. Once the seed is sown, it's hard not to let it grow and populate your mind. One trick I learned to decipher anxiety from intuition, was to realize that anxiety is a niggling doubt in response to a threat, or a situation perceived as a threat (I see a wolf > I feel that the wolf will eat me > I want to run away > the feeling of wanting to run away gets bigger and bigger). Intuition is a gut feeling that comes with a sense of expansion (I see two doors > my gut tells me to go through the left door > it feels good to consider the left door). So in that sense, anxiety is a negative thing, and intuition is a positive thing. I personally suspect that you may be battling anxiety instead of intuition – in fact, I'm pretty sure of it – because, now that you have separated from your boyfriend, you feel heartbroken and torn between actions. Intuition feels right. Not indecisive. Not bad. It feels relieving.
Another reason I think that you may not be experiencing true intuition is that you suffer with anxiety and a fear of commitment. Naturally, this would make you have doubts when it comes to committing! Don't worry. Once you have gotten to the root of the problem, I promise your issues will be halved.
One thing that I consider a breakthrough is this: “Instead of waking up anxious like I did in the relationship, I wake up sad.” If you are sad, then you are missing the life you guys could have had! I wonder if it might be best for you to do some inner work and try to figure out the root cause of your relationship-related anxiety. What makes you so anxious?
Part of me wonders if most of these issues have been born within you. Please don't take this as a judgement (it's not at all – I have a lot of issues with relationships!) but I think, from the sound of it, you feel insecure within yourself. You aren't close with your family, you feel bound to his son, and feel an overwhelming sensation that something isn't right. But, viewed as an outsider – with none of the internal feelings you have – it seems to me that you guys have the foundation of a great relationship, one that, void of doubt, could be utterly wonderful.
I agree – without work, this won't just ‘go away'. But that doesn't mean you can't have a wonderful outcome, with you, your boyfriend, and your stepson. True love is not easy. No love is easy. Love hurts, love is confusing, and love is tough. I am in a relationship with a man 32 years my senior, and we have been to hell and back many times. Many times we have fought relationship, and many times we have suffered resentment, and pain, and even soft-breakups. Do I think that he is any less my soulmate, because of that? Absolutely not. On our anniversary next year, I plan to propose to him. Because struggles don't take away from our love. Our love is bound by something inside us; a core, soul love. If you feel that for your boyfriend, I think you can make it work. Love is a battlefield – like the Pat Benatar song. But it's a battle worth fighting.
I'm going to list some suggestions below for you to try, and I would love for you to reach out to me if there is anything I can do. I am a PTSD, addiction and trauma coach, but I also do relationship coaching for people on the autism spectrum. I would love to be a listening ear if ever you need one. 🙂
- Tell yourself that the intuitive feeling is not necessarily intuition. Even if you don't believe it, kid yourself. Give this feeling a name like Boris or Gareth or Dave. And when Boris or Gareth or Dave bothers you, just go, “Welp, there goes Boris or Gareth or Dave, again.”
- Make a pros and cons list. List all the good things about your boyfriend, relationship, and situation together. Then name all the bad things. Compare lists.
- Imagine your life without your boyfriend. If you never got to see either of them again. Would you feel worse with him, or without him?
Good luck, honey! You sound like a truly adorable person and I hope with all my strength that you will find the best solution for you. I hope I was able to provide you with some help.
All my love,
Esme xoxoOctober 10, 2018 at 10:51 am #230191
Dear Little Coconut:
Yes, you are not running around a lot, you have been in the relationship with him for a long time before breaking up. And you did settle professionally somewhat. The running around, here is an example of running around that you may not have thought of it as such. When you were troubled about step parenting, you went on line to discuss the matter with other step parents. But you didn't discuss it with him, did you? If you didn't discuss it with him but instead went online, that is a running around behavior, or running away, away from the person you should be talking to.
If you want to elaborate on the other issues in the relationship that dissatisfied you, please do, you can number them: 1, 2, 3 and so forth and I will give you my input. Add to these whether you discussed these things with him and what was his response and the communication on the matter.
anitaOctober 11, 2018 at 10:46 am #230397
Hi to both of you! I've got your responses and I want to write a thoughtful reply. Just popping in to say they were received and thank you.October 11, 2018 at 10:51 am #230401
Dear Little Coconut:
How thoughtful of you to pop in. You are welcome, take the time you need.
anitaOctober 11, 2018 at 10:53 am #230405
Hi Little Coconut!!
Like anita said, super thoughtful to pop in!!!
And from me too – you're welcome and take your time!!!