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Letting go of the past

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  • #77926
    Danielle
    Participant

    So, I’ve turned to y’all in the past, and I have gotten such perspective, so here I am again.

    In fact, the person I previously asked for advice about, is who I am reaching out about again. But the story is a little different this time.

    In the past, I have written here about a very good, but very very skeptical and bitter man, who had become very close to me, unexpectedly. We rode a rollercoaster, for I would say about 2 years, until we finally got off and decided we would give being committed to one another a try, once and for all. During the time on the rollercoaster, the ups were amazing, but the downs were confusing. He would tell me he was in love with me, then tell me he wasn’t sure, then tell me he wasn’t over his ex, then tell me he never met anyone like me and didn’t want to lose me. As you could imagine, this was all a lot to deal with, but my gut continued to urge that the insanity would be worth it.

    And it is. We are officially official. The “I love you”s are a constant, numerous times daily. The ex was a ploy to push me away. Everything he did was done because he was scared, worried things will go how they had in the past with his other serious relationship. He tells me how he loves me, and I know I love him. People who barely know us tell me “how much that boy loves me” just by the way he looks at me. Many of my friends are envious of “our kind of love”

    That being said, this love was not easy to obtain, and if keep allowing myself to think how I think, it will be impossible to maintain. At times, I allow my mind to wander, and wonder. What changed? Why all of a sudden is all of the nonsense of the past, well, in the past? I let myself believe that I have been settled upon.. because my love has been constant in the whirlwind that has been our friendship before we were in a relationship. I worry that we were in a confusing pseudo relationship for so long that I can’t trust what happens in the actual relationship. Point blank, has too much happened between us in the past for there to be a future?

    He says no. We have openly spoken about how I feel, and it hurts him I feel this way, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing he could do. What has happened is in the past, he has explained his actions as genuine as one could be, and my heart believes what he is saying. But why is my mind trying to make me believe otherwise?

    I don’t want to not be with him, but if I always have it in the back of my mind that something bad is about to happen, how fair is it for me to be with him? How do I let what has happened while we weren’t in a relationship go? He has said, over and over, he fought the feeling of being in love with me during that time because he was scared. He was worried all relationships are bad and if we became a couple we would lose each other. But then he finally realized he was going to lose me if he kept telling me one thing and acting another way. (he would act like my boyfriend, but tell me he didn’t want a girlfriend) And that’s when he asked if I would want to be his girlfriend. And a year later, here we are.

    I know relationships aren’t perfect. And I think a lot of them working depends on the amount of good vs the bad.. and it’s 80% good. the other 20% is me not letting us move forward towards a future, and normal two people mending lives together thing.

    So after this long long confusing tale, does anyone have any tips on how to fully let go of the past to be present and look forward to the future? The last thing I want to do is break up with someone who really loves me (and I really love!) because I can’t let go of our confusing pre-relationship past. And I don’t want to make his life miserable either. I know the largest issue here is me. I want to learn how to fix me.

    Does any of this make sense?

    Thank you all in advance!

    #77929
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Danielle:
    It seems to me that for as long he was afraid of loving you, for as long as he took you on the rollercoaster ride you were relatively safe- safe from the relationship being the committed type. Once his fear has settled, you are in danger. So you focus on the past now because you are afraid. Afraid of what a loving, committed, official relationship means or may mean to you: rejection? betrayal? self denial? I don’t know. If you agree that indeed you are now the scared one, what is it that is scaring you? Looking at your past, as far back as childhood… what scares you about this attachment you have with your bf?

    Am I correct when I state the following: Part of you will continue to try to push him away. That part of you was relatively comfortable when he was (on and) off again. Now that part is trying to push him away and it will succeed unless the bigger part of you continues to heal. This relationship with this guy may be your best opportunity to heal. These kinds of attachment wounds can only be healed in the context of a healthy, safe attachment, as you have with this bf…? Be open and vulenrable to him, let him help you as you have helped him, and continue to help him. Treasure this relationship as it is your opportunity to love and be loved in return…?
    anita

    #77930
    Danielle
    Participant

    Anita,

    thank you for reading my mind. everything you said was incredibly accurate. i think i somewhat liked the instability because it was an excuse to give myself fully. and now, here i am with this stable man who constantly addresses why i feel the way i do, and i feel even more unstable in my head.

    in the process of growing and using this relationship as a tool to better myself, how do you suggest i not hurt him in the process? i want to forgive for what has happened, and realize that he was also learning and growing, but instead i cling to it as if he was purposely hurting me. (which i know he wasn’t!)

    i suppose once i look inside and see what i’m actually scared of, i can begin healing, right? i know i’m scared, but i haven’t really narrowed down of what.

    thank you thank you a million times.

    #77933
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Danielle:
    My response from my experience: regarding not hurting him in the process: practice the necessary self control required to not be abusive. In sharing with him, talking with him, share anything that is real for you. For example: I am afraid that… I feel angry about…. Honor your feelings by being visible, by sharing them with him…only not in an ACCUSATORY way and not irresponsibly (as in: here is what i feel, it is your fault, you fix it for me!)

    Your responsibility is to manage your emotions… asking his help, turning toward him for help is good, but you are the one responsible. You are not responsible for how he will take this or that feeling… how it will affect him. Your responsiblity to him is about not being abusive ot him.

    Regarding what you are scared about- I don’t know what it is specifically to you- I believe it has nothing to do with HIS past and nothing to do with what you have been thinking about (the past with him). Think further back. What is there, before… ???
    anita

    #77934
    anita
    Participant

    Oh, and you are very welcome!
    anita

    #77944
    Bethany Rosselit
    Participant

    Hi Danielle,

    The important thing to remember in a relationship is that you both are dealing with fears and doubts. Everything he says and does is only a reflection of HIS own fears. But then, you might misunderstand what he says (or he may misunderstand you) due to your own fears and doubts.

    Remember that his words and actions are NEVER about you–they are NEVER more than a broadcast of his fear. One thing that might really help is asking open ended questions. Ask him WHY he says and does something, using his exact words. This will lead him to think about his reasons for doing and saying what he does, and it will also help keep you from making assumptions.

    And look at your relationship with yourself. What is it that he is “providing” for you? Why are you unable to provide that for yourself? The journey toward understanding others always begins by looking within.

    Bethany
    http://onlinetherapyandcoaching.org

    #77952
    Danielle
    Participant

    Thanks Anita, I do find myself very skilled in communicating. He does take a lot of things personally (I honestly can’t blame him) but I do make it a point to say “I feel this way” rather than “it’s your fault I feel this way” (and the like) Everyone could use improvement, but I certainly don’t want to break him down to build myself up.

    This entire thing is a learning experience, and it’s a challenge I’m not yet willing to give up on. The point you made about me feeling safe with the instability really struck me… I never looked at it that way before, but it makes complete sense. I need to dig deeper in myself to see why I am so worried about letting him in completely. And I think if I left him, and found another guy, I would probably do this with him in some way too. So the best thing here is to realize i have a good thing and figure out why i’m scared of loving him back without being on a rollercoaster. Thank youuuuuu!!

    #77953
    Danielle
    Participant

    Hi Bethany,

    The thing is, he used to be very inconsistent with what he did/said, but once he decided to wholeheartedly put himself into a relationship with me, it’s been nothing but consistency with what he says. He is kind in ways that definitely take me out of my comfort zone (I love you’s very often, very affectionate) and I find myself struggling to keep up.. not because I don’t want to, but because I’m scared to. I feel uncomfortable initiating an ‘i love you’… and that is incredibly silly because i do feel it.

    I am not sure that the inconsistency before he was my boyfriend leaves me anxious to fully open up or if as Anita possibly suggested, it’s something deeper. it could be a number of things, but what I really want to know is tips on how to fix it. I love bettering myself, and i am willing to do the work to get there. and i certainly don’t want this man who have done a complete 180 to be with me to be let down by another girl who can’t get it together. he has inspired me to be better (though never once asked me to) but ultimately, i want to be happy with myself every day.

    #77957
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Danielle:
    You wrote above: “I love bettering myself, and i am willing to do the work to get there.” This is evident thgroughout your writing!

    You wrote above that: “I need to dig deeper in myself to see why I am so worried about letting him in completely.”

    You wrote: “in the process of growing and using this relationship as a tool to better myself…”

    And here is my point that if you agree, and if you embark in it, I believe with much conviction, you will grow and better yourself much: the relationship IS your opportunity to open up about the very things that concern you most, this very fear, this topic here. HE KNOWS a great deal about what you are going through because he JUST DID and overcame it. So let him teach you.

    Don’t try to protect him from hurt by concealing your fear, do the oppostite: SHARE with him and it will not only strengthen you, it will also strengthen the relationship.

    This is not something for you to work on alone, that is within yourself- it is something to be honestly and openly be talked about with him. That is where hope is.
    anita

    #78003
    Axuda
    Participant

    Hi Danielle

    As a man who has gone through some challenging relationship issues in the past, your story sounds quite familiar. I can certainly relate to your tale from the other side, and I completely agree with Anita’s perceptive and sensible advice.

    I can think of several times where I cared about someone so much, I felt I wasn’t worthy of her, and so tried to protect her (and me) by keeping my distance. I had the best of intentions. But, looking back, the effect was to hurt her, and any prospect of a relationship, by appearing cold and distant whilst she tried to be warm and loving. I was stupid, and it was my loss.

    So I can fully believe that your partner may have seemed distant for a long time, particularly if he has had bad experiences. But the fact is, you both stuck it out. That in itself shows that there must be enough strength in the relationship, on both sides, for you to have made it through that phase.

    That said, going through that time has left you with some concerns, which you have identified as a difficulty in letting go of the past. In other words, your past experience is affecting your present feelings. That is a completely natural and human reaction. It is a basic reaction that enabled human beings to survive. And in fact, it is the same reaction that your partner was going through earlier – his experience of his past affected his present feelings.

    How do you fix it? Well, in the same way that it seems he did.

    For whatever reason, he associated being in love with getting hurt. But each day with you started to re-program that association. Here was somebody he loved who didn’t hurt him. Someone who supported him. Someone who loved him back. Someone who would allow him to be himself. So after a time he associated being in love with being supported, being himself, being happy. So he asked you to be his girlfriend. Because those old associations aren’t there for him any more. He has beaten that phobia.

    The problem is that now, quite understandably, you are the one who associates loving someone with the way that he was behaving towards you before you got together. (Love’s complicated, isn’t it!) Add that to any past experiences that you already had and, well, there is work to be done!

    So now, you must both work to re-program those associations. For you, that means two things. First, you must forgive yourself for the feelings that you have – they are natural and sensible, and are there to stop you becoming involved in bad or harmful relationships. Secondly, it means focusing on the present. In other words, every day ask yourself, has he acted in the way that you fear today? The more times you draw a blank with that question (and from what you say, that seems to be the case), the easier it will be to move on.
    Similarly for him, he needs to know and understand how you feel and why you feel it. The best way is to relate it to how he felt, because he knows what that was like, and also that the feeling passes in time.

    You clearly want the relationship to work, because you have asked for advice on how to move it forward. He obviously wants the relationship to work, because he went through a complete U-turn to be there, and knows exactly what he is getting into. So it is worth investing the time and effort into a future that looks bright for you both.

    Good luck to you both!

    #78005
    Danielle
    Participant

    you guys are so great, and i cannot put into the words the gratitude i feel. i feel like i just sat down with someone who has known me for years and helped me over this hump i was ALMOST over.. but not quite. i have screen shot the responses, and whenever i feel a bit looney, i will refer to them. thank you thank you so much.

    i have begun a different outlook today. i heeded anitas advice and approached him a bit more tenderly, and opened myself up – explaining i am afraid to love him because of the same reason he was afraid to love me when we were friends. i let him into everything i felt, and his response was astounding, and really reassured me that i was on the right path. another issue i failed to mention in my initial post is that he has been working in another state for the past three months, leaving me alone with all these thoughts and no opportunity for reminders that our confusing past is just that, in the past.

    thank you all so much. i am so grateful i took the time to write here and i got the responses from the people i did. it might seem a bit dramatic saying so, but i credit y’all for saving my relationship.

    #78073
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Danielle:
    I second everything in Axuda’s amazingly clear, well written post. And I am so pleased you opened up to your bf and that his response was so positive. Keep the open, honest communication and you will both continue to grow as individuals while the relationship itself will strengthen and become more and more. It will be a win-win situation for both of you. Best wishes to you!
    anita

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