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Let go or keep going?

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  • #352238
    lily27
    Participant

    Hi everybody, I am in a very tiring mental place right now and need some advice and a different perspective. So here’s the story:

    I am 23 years old and my boyfriend is 21.  I had broken up with my ex in June 2018 and met my bf in september 2018 and things went really fast from there. In May 2019 we decided to move abroad because he had gotten a job offer (place is around 7 hours away by plane from our home countries). We both graduated at the same time and it felt really good so I decided to go with him. We moved in September that year. The first year of our relationship was great,  we had some issues sometimes mainly because he had never been in a real relationship (that’s what he would say when we talked “I don’t know how to do this it’s all new for me). So we had to do some effort and learn to communicate well and figure out our love language. But overall I felt that we were in a strong relationship and our base was strong enough to survive living abroad together.

    When we moved, everything that could go wrong went wrong. We were looking for apartments and I was applying for jobs and that was all exciting but during the day I was alone in a studio that we rented on airbnb and it felt all very overwhelming. I didn’t get the job that I wanted so everything else felt like second choice which made me demotivated and my bf’s job was very stressful as it was the busiest time of the year. And I missed my family and friends just so much. So things heated up quickly. From then on when we had an issue we tried talking about it and tried solving it but it never really got solved. I just got too tired to spend more energy on it as the whole situation was already so tiring and then we just left it and waited until things exploded again to do the whole thing over.

    We have been living here for 6 months now and I have done 2 jobs already. The first one was so bad I just needed to get out of that environment and due to the pandemic I was fired from the second one. I worked 40 hours a week and my salary was less than half of his, so I am financially depended on him too. And all those little things just hurt so much.

    I just feel like a failure. I moved here with all those intentions and now I am so demotivated. In the beginning our love got me through. Because I thought that our love would be enough. But everything was new and exciting and now it isn’t anymore and I just start to think “is he really the one I want to spend my life with?” I really want to fight for our relationship but what I once felt for him isn’t there anymore. I am trying to see it but I just don’t.

    In the six months we’ve lived here we only went home for Christmas and two weeks before that my grandmother died. I never got to say goodbye and go to the funeral and even though I think I was okay and I gave myself some time to grieve, I think it just created more distance between us. The closer we are (or have to be because of quarantaine) the further we stray from each other. It’s so frustrating because I don’t know if maybe we did all this too soon? I know I wasn’t fully over my ex yet, I just felt so confident I got another chance at love, a good chance after such a horrible previous relationship. Maybe I idolised him and now I just don’t find it exciting enough anymore.

    He also says that our issues are because of this pandemic. And sure it didn’t help but I’ve been feeling like this since we moved. I know that I went left and he went right and it just went so slowly then that we didn’t realise how hot the water got under our feet. And now things went so quick and the situation is so stressful that our issues and our situation blew up. But I just know that it isn’t just because of this. I have been feeling unhappy since we got here and he is always so hurt when I tell him that. But it is not just our circumstances (it’s either “just a busy time at work” or “it’s the quarantaine” it’s always something, always something that seems out of his control so then it’s easy because he can do zero effort as he can’t change it anyway).

    We’ve talked about all this a few days ago. We sat down and really talked with some relationship questions I found online. We both got to say what we really wanted but still I feel like that gap is there. I am always the one initiating those talks. Because I am the one who feels the issues and sees the problems. Which he makes me feel guilty for sometimes but when I ask if he thinks everything is fine, he says no. Then why does he not want to fix it? Why do I always feel like I am the one pouring my soul in this relationship and all his energy and attention goes to his job? Why is he fine with an ‘okay relationship’?

    I don’t know if he would do the same for me. Moving abroad and having all those shitty experiences. When I ask him why he is in a relationship with me, he says “because circumstances you went like that”. I think I resent him for everything. Missing my friends and family, not having a good job while he does, just being unhappy. Maybe I blame him for all that. But I am still here, so that means that I still have something inside me that wants to work it out right?

    I basically don’t feel appreciated at all, he takes me and everything for granted. He never cooks, never cleans up, never does the washing.. And I am too young to nag about the household chores all day. He takes it for granted that I moved here with him -which it very much isn’t –  and it feels like I’ve put my life on hold to take care of him here.

    I don’t feel like he wants to invest in me emotionally. He is comfortable living this life so he doesn’t even ask himself the question “is this what I really want?”, and he will never realise how much I truly love him and how far I’d go to to be with him.

    And now I don’t know if I still love him and if it’s all worth it. And I want to put myself first and do what feels best for me but I don’t know if that means saying goodbye or sticking around. Because something needs to change and I don’t want him to change but maybe I fell in love with his potential. To have a stable relationship and to be with someone for the long run. And maybe it just isn’t there and I only see that now.

    Thanks so much if you made it through all that and for replying! 🙂

    #352302
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily27:

    You met your boyfriend Sept 2018: he was about 19 or 20, you were 21 or 22 . He later got a job offer in another country, 7 hours away by plane, and the two of you moved together to the new country in Sept 2019, a year into your relationship. At first the two of you stayed in an Airbnb studio while you looked for a job and the two of you looked for an apartment.

    During that time you were alone in the studio a lot because he worked. You looked for a job and found two, the first you hated so you quit it. You were fired from the second because of the pandemic. Spending a lot of time alone, you missed your family and friends in your home country. The two of you didn’t get along, you brought up issues that were never resolved, “until things exploded again to do the whole thing over”.

    You currently feel demotivated, like a failure, doubting that you want to be with your boyfriend, not feeling for him what you felt before, not feeling close to him -“The closer we are (or have to be because of the quarantine) the further we stray from each other”, and you blame and “resent him for everything.. missing my friends and family, not having a good job while he does, just being unhappy.. He never cooks, never cleans up, never does the washing… it feels like I’ve put my life on hold to take care of him here… he will never realise how much I truly love him”.

    And now,  my input: the title of your thread is “Let go or keep  going?”- I vote for letting go. Seems to me that he is a nice guy, a hard working man (and this is impressive considering he is only 21!), an honest man who doesn’t like a complicated type relationship: not willing or  not equipped to dive into what he can’t fix. And he can’t fix your unhappiness or the fact that you didn’t get the job you wanted, or that you hated the job you did get.. or the pandemic, he can’t fix the pandemic.

    For as long as you blame and resent him for your choice to leave your home country and move to a new country, for as long as you blame him for what is out of his control, better for his sake, that you leave him.

    I am wondering: were you really happy with your family and friends back in your home country?

    anita

    #352770
    lily27
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thanks a lot for replying!

    The truth is that I was never really 100% happy. It was always due to circumstances that I felt like I couldn’t be fully happy. I either was doing well in school but I was missing a boyfriend. Or either in a relationship while not doing well in other fields of my life. When I met him everything came together. I was both enjoying my life and I met a nice guy. Of course I knew this ‘honeymoon phase’ would end but it just finally felt right. I’ve spend a lot of time on and healing myself, I am no longer afraid of leaving a guy, or go after my dreams. I consider myself a very courageous person. But deep down I always feel like something is missing. Because even if I am with a good guy, I still think it could be better. And now that everything fell apart and the only certain factor in my life is me living together with this guy, I am forced to look at this relationship and accept it for what it is.

    So no, I don’t think that I’ll be happier if I move back and be with my family and friends. Even if I find the job of my dreams, I won’t be 100% happy. And that’s what I’m figuring out, how I can allow myself to be fully happy. And it is of course important to eliminate the things that you really don’t want, like a shitty job, but it is right now even more important to let the things that I do want, like a stable relationship, be in my life and hold on to it.

    Since I started this topic, I expected things to get worse. But it actually got better. We faced even more challenges due to the pandemic and we are unsure if we’ll be able to stay here as we will simply not be able to afford it anymore. Everything we are going through is intense and it simply is too much for 2 young people in a young relationship to handle on the other side of the world. But for the first time it doesn’t feel like me against him, it feels like us against the situation. And this for me is a major improvement. The fact that we are still capable of having a good time and the spark of the beginning that is more present, means a lot.

    I still have a lot to learn about myself, obviously I’ve just started life, but so does he. And I am incredibly proud of him for everything he has achieved. And it still hurts that I don’t feel like I’m on that same level but I have no control over the timing of his life and the lessons this life will teach him. So I probably blame him for the things that feel like are out of my control, just because I am afraid of the uncertainty and failing. I have to take responsibility for my life and my choices, even though they are driven by his deeds. Accept what is and just embrace the uncertainty and no better time to do that then now.

    #352804
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily27:

    You are very welcome.

    “for the first time it doesn’t feel like me against him, it feels like us against the situation”- this is the hallmark of a healthy, loving relationship.

    “It was always due to circumstances that I felt like I couldn’t be fully happy”- people who experience unhappy childhoods, carry that early life unhappiness throughout their adult lives: all through changing locations/ people/ jobs/financial circumstances, etc.  There are moments of getting high on life, when experiences are new (ex., the honeymoon phase you mentioned), but that newness dies out and we are back to experiencing that early childhood experience.

    “deep down I always feel like something is missing”- this is what I believe you experienced as a child, for years. I wonder what it was.

    If your guy is an honest, trustworthy, decent, hard working person, then don’t leave him just yet. The something that is missing is not in him or in the relationship, it is within you. In the future, you can evaluate the relationship and figure out if there is something significantly missing in it. But so far, seems to me that you projected that early life something-is-missing into him and the relationship with him.

    – And don’t rush to go back to your family where .. something is still significantly missing and where you were unhappy.

    What do you think?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by anita.
    #352902
    Ddawg
    Participant

    Dear Lily,

    My ex and I broke up recently in very similar circumstances. We moved to a new city with no network. My ex lost her job and her self worth was shot. In the end, she said it was all about how she was feeling and decided she needed the space to find herself.

    I know you are going through ups and downs with yr bf but my recommendation is to discuss how you can have that time apart so you can work on yourself. You have to heal from your resentment and you also need time to grow.

    It’s actually the best thing for him too. It will allow him to grow and if it’s right, you will come back together in a new space that is healthy and more conducive to growing together.

    I hope you find peace which ever decision you make.

     

    #353040
    lily27
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    What you say is completely true. I’ve had a rough childhood. My parents divorced when I was 4 and I have no memory of them ever being (happy) together. From then on when I was with my mom I had to miss my dad and vice versa. I mainly lived with my mom and my sister and even though it wasn’t easy, I saw how my mom managed it all and eventually find the love of her life. My bf’s parents are still together and he has lived with them in the same house his entire life – something that is foreign to me as I moved houses often, also having to pack bags all the time to go spend the weekend at my dad’s house or living at my grandparents for a while. His entire life has seemed the same up to now and he never had to deal with drastic changes.

    I’ve always thought that I was okay with my childhood as nothing majorly traumatising happened. But the older I get the more I realised how it emotionally scarred me. I don’t think that I’ll ever feel ready to marry a guy and have children because of my parents. I will always keep thinking that I don’t want to put them in the same situation as me. I love them and I no they did the best they could, but they themselves were trying to figure out life, so that is obviously not going to make my life easier.

    My dad hasn’t been around much, when I was young we had a ‘legal’ arrangement but when I got older and went to boarding school, I didn’t visit him regularly anymore. I’ve never felt good enough for him and have sought his approval my entire life. When I broke up with my ex I saw a therapist. She understood me so well and she explained how I was dating that guy to make up for the emotional pain my dad had given me. This got me to learn more about my ‘inner child’ and I really see how it has affected a lot of my life decisions.

    My bf doesn’t understand this because he never had to deal with these situations. And I’m happy he is an emotionally stable person – my ex boyfriend’s parents were in the middle of a divorce while we were dating and it felt like I was reliving the whole thing over again. So my current bf never having dealt with divorce, or divorce of the parents of somebody you loved and not even having dealt with heartbreak, of course I’m going to feel as if he doesn’t understand me. That’s all very intense and he doesn’t know that, he just sees how it affected me.

    But I don’t know how to recover from this childhood, if that’s even possible. I know that seeing the triggers and knowing where it comes from, is a lot already. But it doesn’t benefit my bf or our relationship if I can’t change it or act on it. To me it is a lot of progress but to him it is as if I’m an emotional machine who can’t live with herself sometimes.

    Anita, you ask all the right questions because in the end it always comes down to this. You have advice on how to truly deal with it?

    #353042
    lily27
    Participant

    Hi Ddwag,

    I am sorry to hear about your breakup and thanks for your input. We can’t stop things to happen to other people and it is especially painful when it is somebody you love so much.

    Do you think you could have worked it out if you both had done something differently?

    My main issue right now is that I say goodbye too soon. What if the space we create for ourselves only pushes us more apart? But at the same time I don’t want to stand in the way of his growth and he probably feels the same about me. In theory we are living the same experience but we actually experience them so differently, I am sure you recognise this feeling. Let me know how you handle that and if you have tips.

    #353082
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily27:

    I think that you were very unhappy as a child, understandably. I think that that something-missing that you currently feel (“I always feel like something is missing”) is the same thing that was missing for you when you were a child: a stable loving home with two happy parents, happy to be with each other and with their children- a happy family unit. What you had instead was a divided family and lots of moving around: “moved houses often.. pack bags all the time to go  spend the weekend at my dad’s house or living at my grandparents for a while”.

    You perceive your boyfriend to never had that missing-piece in his life: his “parents are still together and he has  lived with them in the same house his entire life.. His entire life has seemed the same up to now and he never had to deal with drastic changes.. never having dealt with divorce”

    Your anger at your boyfriend is palpable: “I resent him for everything. Missing my friends and family, not having a good job while he does.. I basically don’t feel appreciated at all, he takes me and everything for granted. He never cooks.. He takes it for granted that I moved here with him.. it feels like I’ve put my life on hold to take care of him here. I don’t feel  like he wants to invest in me emotionally… And now I don’t know if I still love him”.

    I think that as a child you were angry that you didn’t get to have the lives of other, fortunate children.

    An unhappy and angry child turned an unhappy and angry young teenager and now, young adult: “I have been feeling unhappy since we got here.. it is not just our circumstances.. the quarantine.. .. The truth is that I was never really 100% happy.. I either was doing well in school but I was missing a boyfriend. Or either in a relationship while not doing well in other fields of my life.. deep down I always feel like something is missing. Because even if I am with a good guy, I still think it could be better”.

    “I’ve always thought that I was okay with my childhood as nothing majorly tramatising happened”- we often think of trauma as having to do with blood and broken bones, starvation or incest. But it takes way less than those things to traumatize a child. A child is a very vulnerable little person.

    Your experience was traumatizing enough, so much so that you wrote: “I don’t think that I’ll ever feel  ready to marry a guy and have children because of my parents… I don’t want to put them in the same situation as me”.

    “But I don’t know how to recover from this childhood, if that’s even possible.. You have advice on how to truly dealt with it?”-

    – it will take a combination of things:

    1. More emotional understanding of your childhood; deep hurt and anger need to be expressed and processed so that they lose their intensity, be contained in the past, in the there-and-then, and no  longer project themselves into the here-and now.

    2. Emotional regulation: you will need to further develop your ability to experience painful emotions and not get overwhelmed by them. This is necessary for #1 above, to be done, and it is also necessary as you control your anger from being projected at your boyfriend, that is, you learn to endure feeling angry at your boyfriend without turning that anger against him in covert or overt ways.

    3. Understanding that the children of parents who did not divorce, such as your boyfriend when he was a child, didn’t have it that good. We only imagine that other people have great lives because they didn’t experience our specific challenge. But there are many ways to mess up a child in a home where married parents living together, even living in the same house and never leaving. Seeing that reality will help you feel less anger at your boyfriend.

    There is more, but I will wait for your response and we can communicate further, take your time.

    anita

     

     

    #353262
    lily27
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Again thanks for your reply.

    I feel like I shouldn’t be ‘whining’ because there was no ‘physical’ abuse or trauma. Even going to a therapist feels like I am being dramatic because people would ask why and just tell me it’s a bad day and it will pass. But I know it is rooted in my childhood and it’s like a jar that was closed all these years and now I took the lid off and everything is coming out and overwhelming me. But it is happening inside of me. Nobody can see what my mind is doing to me and how I am mentally affected by it. People just see my life and think I must be so happy. And of course I am so grateful to be in this relationship and to have two parents who are healthy and well. But that doesn’t take away the fact that internally I just can’t handle it all. The pressure of having to be happy and shocking people when I tell them that I actually feel really miserable is something I now have to deal with as well. So everything together – the things that were already going on and the new stress factors of living here – just got too much and I guess that’s why I am in the position I’m in now and why I took it out on my relationship – and maybe made myself believe it was the relationship that was making me unhappy as it’s the only thing I’ve got control over right now.

    I indeed was always angry and jealous of other kids whose parents were still together. Luckily I have good friends in both situations and I always was able to talk about that with them. I realise what seems like a happy home often isn’t. But as a child I didn’t have that ability, I never questioned my situation because things just were the way they were. People often tell me that I’m actually lucky because I was so young when they divorced and I don’t remember them fighting. But of course I am not lucky because I didn’t grow up in a healthy marriage, even if that later fell apart. Even though my parents found new loves and started new families, I saw how they were both managing a household by themselves, which is not what your intentions are when you start a family. So in that way I am used to seeing and kind of always expecting relationships to fail. My mom would start dating somebody and I would meet them and their kids and then I never saw them again. And of course this is what happens when you date and it doesn’t work out but to me it was always very confusing. I just had to be flexible and accept it. I never got a choice what my circumstances looked like. Which has given me anxiety as I often wake up and believe everything good is just going to be taken away from me without an explanation.

    One of my biggest fears is that my boyfriend is all of a sudden going to decide he doesn’t want to be with me anymore. He has never said anything like that or has given me the feeling like that is going to happen but still I am kind of awaiting that moment. And in the past when I broke up with somebody – I always had reasons and I don’t regret any of the breakups, it’s more the way it happened that scarred me more – I was always feeling like oh yes of course this happens, because that’s how it goes. The fact that I felt like I just don’t love him anymore and I don’t want to be with him anymore even though that I do, is probably me sabotaging myself because I need to bring that balance back. I am used to having things not going my way and seeing people leave my life that I am so rooted in this believe that it will eventually happen, if not now than after a few years.

    It is really painful to open the jar and realise all of the traumatic experiences because I’ve pushed them away for so long. I read that’s what children do as a coping mechanism, as adults you remember things from your childhood that you had ‘forgotten’ all this time because you just couldn’t handle it as a child.

    But I am ready to do what it takes, because I owe it to my future children and myself. I know that I can be fully happy and that I deserve it and I want to accept it all.

    Take your time reading this and give me more of your advice when you want. Thank you so much, you are a blessing.

     

    #353292
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily27:

    You are welcome and thank you for your expressed appreciation and for telling me to take my time.

    “I feel like I shouldn’t be ‘whining'”- talking about the most powerful experiences in your life (your childhood) is not whining. Some people will tell you  it’s whining because that’s what their parents told them when they expressed any dissatisfaction: stop whining!

    Sometimes people whine, as in going on and on about the same thing while not being willing to resolve anything. But this is not true to who are: “I am ready to do what it takes, because I owe it to my future children and myself”.

    “it is happening inside of me. Nobody can see what my mind is doing to me”- this is why it is important that you let people know what’s inside you. It is not whining- it is part of healing. But you have to be selective as to who you talk  to. Lots of people don’t want to hear what triggers their own unresolved issues.

    “People often tell me that I’m actually lucky because I was so  young when they divorced and I don’t remember them fighting”- like I wrote to you in my earlier post, people think that because you didn’t experience the very same bad experience they had, that you are lucky, not realizing that you too had bad experiences.

    Here is one bad experience you had, repeatedly: “My mom would start dating somebody and I would meet them and their kids and then I never saw them again”-

    I imagine you sensed that your mother was hopeful regarding this or that man, hopeful to get married and have a combined family, and you hoped for that too. Every time the hoped-for family disappeared, she was terribly disappointed and so were you. You experienced your mother’s dating relationship by proxy.

    “So in that way I am used to seeing and kind of always expecting relationships to fail”- your mother’s relationships= your relationships by proxy. Only you had no say in them, no power, which causes anxiety: “I never got a choice what my circumstances looked like. Which has given me anxiety”.

    You didn’t have a say in anything much as a child: no say in who your mother dates and brings home for you to meet, no say in how she interacts with said men, no say in where you live at any one time (your mother’s, your father’s, grandparents), no say in whether to move to a new place or not, etc.

    “One of my biggest fears is that my boyfriend is all of a sudden going to decide he doesn’t want to be with me anymore”- at one time it was good between you and him, but you are used to good things being taken away from you suddenly, without a warning or an explanation: “I often wake up and believe everything good is just going to be taken away from me without an explanation… I was always feeling like oh yes of course this happens, because that’s how it goes.. I am used to having things not going my way and seeing people leave my life”.

    You know that your mother didn’t have to date while you were a child, and dating, she didn’t have to bring the men and their children home to meet you. What she did is part of the trauma we mentioned, your trauma. Don’t underestimate it because it is not the same as some other people’s traumas. It is worthy of the word trauma because how negatively it affected you, and still does.

    You are welcome to share more about that experience, your mother’s dating life when you were a child, if you want to. Remember, it’s not whining; it’s part of healing. If you feel guilty sharing anything that makes your mother look bad (that’s how children think and feel), then remind yourself that you are here to heal, and what you share here does not affect your mother in any way.

    anita

    #355448
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, Lily27?

    anita

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