July 16, 2017 at 7:50 pm #158430
I'm having an issue I can't seem to solve myself and the users on this site are always thoughtful, respectful and kind. I have a bit of a long backstory, so here's the short version – I'm in a wonderful relationship with someone who loves and respects me, but I want to be single. Should I ride this feeling out or wait for it to subside? 24 years old, female, first relationship on its 6th year.
Long Version- I grew up in an abusive household. I don't remember the extent of it, and I don't want to. My father was always a little too friendly, and if I ignored his advances he vented his anger on the family. My mother was a sweet, anxious, childish person who loved us to bits, but struggled with her own demons. Anxiety and depression were constant, and after a life-long struggle that culminated in schizophrenia she committed suicide.
I had always felt responsible for my family and their happiness, and I often fantasized about living alone in a tiny apartment. I didn't date throughout high school because my father was jealous, and by the time I met David I was 18, jaded, and exhausted. But I wanted to try this “love” thing everyone is so obsessed with, and I wanted to experience consensual sex. We had been dating for about a month when he got kicked out of his house and crashed on my couch “for a week”. Which turned into a month. Etc etc. At this point my father did not live with us and my mother and I were struggling to pay bills, and frankly David's income was sorely needed. Fast forward, my mother's schizophrenia was getting worse. She put the house on the market and sold it without telling us, because “the demons were in the carpet”. David and I decided to get an apartment together, since all we really had in the world was each other. We grew through our late teens and early 20s together, and while it's been a struggle we've caught some lucky breaks and made something of nothing. I graduated college and got my dream job, zero debt with a decent starting salary and medical benefits!! He's got a year and a half left of his bachelors, and since we don't want kids we'll basically be set. Life has been good to us recently, and it's about to get a whole lot better.
If I don't f*ck it up.
I know I love him. I look at his face and my whole heart fills up. But I never did get the whole “living alone” thing I had always wanted, I'm beginning to feel trapped and panicky. I do struggle with anxiety though. All that to say, I've had a weird feeling in my gut since the beginning. Something is a little off, something is missing? But this is my first relationship and I have nothing to compare it to. Maybe I'm just broken. Maybe I'm not capable of feeling that all-encompassing love. Everyone around me always says I'm lucky to have such a great guy, and to have found him right off the bat! What are the odds. But this gnawing in my gut has been growing, I'm finding myself fantasizing about him finding his perfect person, falling in love with her, ending it with me, and continuing on to live the wonderful life he deserves. It would hurt, I am in love with him (and financially I would support him until he graduated. Which would be straining). But I would be free from all responsibility after he graduates, and I would only have to worry about myself. Logically, I know I would get lonely and I'd miss him. I just can't seem to shake this feeling. Am I a coward for staying in an unfulfilling relationship, or am I an adult for realizing everyone has their ups and downs? Has anyone been in a similar situation, did you break up, did you stay? Do you have regrets?
Thanks for reading, I appreciate your time!July 16, 2017 at 11:10 pm #158470
Thanks for your honesty. I imagine that it's difficult to share some of your difficult experiences. I commend your courage. I haven't been through what you have. But I do know that your gut (heart) instinct is there to teach you something, to show you something either about yourself, or about your situation. Ignoring it won't make it go away. It will only lay dormant for awhile (maybe even for many years), until you decide to face it head on.
You have dealt with many traumatic experiences, abuse, suicide, becoming a “parent” to a parent, financial struggles. I don't know if you have talked to a professional about any of this or if you've only relied on David as a sounding board. It's a lot of responsibility to lay onto teenagers and/or young adults. It sounds like you didn't have much time to really experience just being a kid. Perhaps you're just restless and want to experience some of the things that most teenagers did. Sneeking out late. Breaking some rules. Lying to your parents. Maybe you just want to experience some freedom and the ability to learn to rely on yourself. To try to figure things out on your own. Even though David has been a great source of support for you the past 6 years, maybe you're afraid that you don't have the skills to do that for yourself. Or maybe, you don't feel like David is really “The One” for you. It may be one of those answers, or maybe something else entirely.
The only way that you'll find out the answer to those questions is to sit with them for awhile. Talk to a Professional. Talk to David. Talk to another trusted confidant and friend. Express your fears. Express your feelings of anxiety. What are you afraid of if you and David break up? What are you afraid of if you and David stay together? What do you want for your life? What kind of relationship(s) do you want in your life? The important thing is to learn to listen to your heart “gut” (rather than your mind “logic”) and to be honest with yourself. Hiding from David or yourself will only perpetuate the unanswered questions.
It sounds like these are difficult questions to answer. So be patient with yourself. And ask David to be patient with you too. If he truly loves you, he should want you to be happy regardless of what the answers are. All I know is how much I changed from the ages of 20-25, and then again from 25-30. You are just starting to figure out whom you are and what you want out of life. Give yourself time to figure it out. Don't jump into anything (even after 6 years) if you don't feel comfortable or ready in any way. When an answer is right, it feels good in your body and fills you with a sense of peace. When it's not, you feel badly, and you experience feelings of discomfort, anxiety, and unrest (in your stomach, chest, or throat usually). Your heart and body always tell the truth. Your Truth. It doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks you “should” do.
Sometimes you have to sit with the questions for days, weeks, months. Keep asking the questions and then go on living your life, doing things that bring you joy, connecting with nature, connecting with God/Source/The Universe. The answers will eventually come. They always do. Trust that your Inner Being knows what is best for you and will show you the way. It loves you and wants what is best for you. Learn to listen carefully. Learn to Trust Your Heart.
Best wishes! I hope you find you answers. Take Care!
DawnJuly 17, 2017 at 9:47 am #158516
I haven't been in a similar situation in that I did not grow up with a father in the home and I did not have a relationship when I was 18 or a relationship that lasted six years (not before middle age). There are other differences. My childhood was traumatic in other ways. If you would like my input anyway, here it is:
You wrote: “I’ve had a weird feeling in my gut since the beginning. Something is a little off, something is missing?”- it would have been weird if, after your childhood history, if you didn't feel weird or that “something is a little off”. You don't exit a childhood like this, an incestuous father and a schizophrenic mother who committed suicide, without consequences.
You continued: “But this is my first relationship and I have nothing to compare it to”- the solution to that weird feeling, this something being off, is not to gather … bad relationships so to see this one, in comparis0n, in a better light. Just saying. Not that you will necessarily gather bad experiences.
And: “Maybe I’m just broken. Maybe I’m not capable of feeling that all-encompassing love”- I believe you are capable, with a couple of adjustments: it is impossible to always feel love for another person and to always think positively about another person. If what you mean by “all-encompassing love” is feeling love all the time and thinking positively about the loved one all the time, then no one experiences an all-encompassing love”, not longer than a few days or weeks perhaps.
The other adjustment is that there are consequences to what was inflicted on you in childhood. A child cannot come out of this untouched, unaffected. Reads to me that you have lead a good life, considering your experience. Do expect something off. It can be attended to, worked on-
anitaJuly 23, 2017 at 10:16 am #159724
Thank you both for your responses! I was bluntly honest with him, we've decided to go to couples therapy and individual therapy as well. I still feel trapped and panicky, but I'm hoping that feeling will fade. And if it doesn't, at least he knows now and we'll just break it off.
RJuly 24, 2017 at 4:32 am #159814
You are welcome. I hope therapy will help you. If it is quality therapy I can't imagine it not being helpful. I hope the “Trapped and panicky” feeling will fade and fade. Post again anytime.