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My ex and I still love each other, but can’t be together

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Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 68 total)
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  • #383392
    Candice88
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Above, in my response to TeaK, you can see that I had a rough childhood. But I was able to reroute my thoughts as an adult for years until S cheated cheated. Again, the effects of that on my mental health are not up for debate – my current dilemma is what to do 5 years later, now in a complicated and not fulfilling relationship with M, with my ex S confessing he wishes he could be with me but he is also in a relationship…and now has cut off all communication to protect both of our relationships. It’s the pain of not being happy to begin with, and now with this mutual but inaccessible love with S.

    #383394
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    I am sorry about your childhood, you suffered a severe trauma. Does your mother suffer from mental illness? Because the things she did to you I believe belong to the category of child abuse.

    It’s no wonder that S’ behavior caused such a severe reaction in you. I think it was actually a reaction to your mother’s abuse, only it came delayed. Are you working on your childhood trauma in therapy?

    S wasn’t patient enough for that healing process when we were together.

    Well, S’ behavior wasn’t fair and would have caused anxiety, or at least upset, in someone less traumatized too. So don’t blame yourself – he didn’t respect you or your plea to text you when he gets home – which wasn’t too much to ask.

    Regarding what to do now: I got the feeling that one of your main concerns is that you’re forever ruined (by S) and that it’s not fair, because had S been “enlightened” as he is now, it wouldn’t have happened and you could have lived a more or less normal life, without your childhood trauma being reactivated. And now, you have to “stay ruined” because S isn’t available any more, and you’re stuck with your wound (“bullet”)  for the rest of your life. Is that your reasoning approximately?

    What I would like to say is that 1) your childhood trauma was a ticking bomb – it was to get triggered sooner or later. Even if S were an angel, there would have been other life events that would have triggered it. You couldn’t have prevented it from happening. 2) you’re not ruined for life – there’s treatment for childhood trauma and PTSD, 3) you cannot be truly happy with S or M (or anybody else) until you heal your childhood trauma. If you were to get together with S, you’d still need to work on your trauma, before you can really be “whole and healed”. The bullet is still in you, and S cannot take it out. Only you can, with the help of a professional.

    How does this sound to you?

    #383395
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Candice88:

    I am sorry that you had a rough childhood. I didn’t read the post where you discussed it because you and I double posted. If it’s okay with you, I would like to return to your thread tomorrow morning, in about 16 hours from now, read all of your posts and reply further.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by anita.
    #383402
    Candice88
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

    Yes, my mother has depression and anxiety. She was also abused as a child. We have a better relationship now, but I still feel like I have to parent her. When I tried bringing up some of the things I mentioned to you, as a way to seek closure, she denied the actions vehemently, yelled at me, told me to “write a book”, that I’m not perfect either, and then shut down.

    I am working on some of it in therapy yes, but I have not pursued therapy with someone who focuses on childhood trauma. And absolutely, you did a good job of articulating my process, so thank you for that.

    I would love to not be in love with my ex anymore, as that would make the whole process a lot easier.

    #383411
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    I am working on some of it in therapy yes, but I have not pursued therapy with someone who focuses on childhood trauma.

    Do seek someone specialized in childhood trauma, because that’s where the core problem lies…

    I would love to not be in love with my ex anymore, as that would make the whole process a lot easier.

    When you said that, it occurred to me there are similarities between S and your mother: 1) they both made you feel unworthy and also guilty for the fact that they mistreated you, and 2) you wanted closure with both of them, even though they both hurt you badly.

    You said about S:

    We have so many memories here together that flashbacks came involuntarily, and given my problems with M I began to wonder if some closure with S would help me move forward.

    And now with your mother:

    When I tried bringing up some of the things I mentioned to you, as a way to seek closure,

    The child always hopes that the parent would finally understand how he/she hurt the child, and as a result, that the relationship would improve. Because it’s painful to be separated from the ones we love, not to be able to express our love freely, not to enjoy a deep bond which would be normal and natural, and which is normal and natural in some families.

    I too recently tried to explain to my mother how she did give me everything materially, she took good care of my physical needs, but emotionally she wasn’t really supportive. And she rejected it, claiming she was a good mother. But there was still in me a glimmer of hope that she would finally understand, and that we could embrace lovingly, that I could embrace her freely without putting up a wall to protect myself from her. But it’s not possible – I still need to keep that wall up to protect myself from her condemnation and judgment.

    So, when you sought closure, you might have wanted something similar: for your mother to understand you, to admit her  mistakes, and remove the barrier between the two of you, so you could have a loving relationship with her again. But it didn’t happen, and it rarely does, unless the parent is working on themselves too.

    With S, you sought the same: that he would finally understand what he did to you… And lo and behold: it seems S does understand you and has admitted his mistake, which leaves (at least in theory) the door open for a loving relationship. S did what your mother couldn’t do: he admitted his mistake and even expressed that he loves you.

    This is a dream come-true for an abused child: to have the “parent” finally admit their mistake and love the child. That’s why your feelings for S are so strong – because your inner child sees him as the perfect parent, a parent who will finally give the little girl that you were all the love and care in the world, and have all of her needs met. For your inner child it’s heaven, it’s everything she has ever wanted. And now it’s being taken away from her…

    But you’d need to realize that your strong attachment to S is in part fueled by this child-parent dynamics. You still feel like a  child, who needs someone to save you. This someone could be S, but he isn’t available, and now you feel like you’re doomed. This is the little Candice’s reasoning.

    The adult Candice would need to understand that only she can save herself: that she needs to become the loving parent to her  own inner child. Even if S would agree to do that, and would enter in a relationship with you, it wouldn’t last long because it would be like a parent-child relationship, not two equal adults. And it would be doomed to fail, sooner or later.

     

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Tee.
    #383414
    anita
    Participant

    Dear candice88:

    I took my time and thoroughly read all your posts on this thread, taking notes as I went along. It is clear to me that you suffer from C-PTSD. There are online sources and books on the topic, a couple of books: Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma, by Pete Walker, and Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control And Becoming Whole, by Arielle Schwartz.

    Books and workbooks on PTSD are very relevant, being that you do suffer from PTSD (caused by your mother who has single-handedly inflicted on you  multiple traumas over the years of your childhood), such as: The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms By Mary Beth Williams.

    Here’s perhaps a book for your future partner: Loving Someone with PTSD: A practical Guide to Understanding and Connecting with Your Partner after Trauma by Aphrodite T. Matsakis.

    anita

    #383445
    Candice88
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

    I appreciate you for sharing that information with me. That’s exactly what happened when I spoke to my mom, and I have accepted that until she is willing to change I need to protect myself as best as I can.

     

    I do think it’s a similar dynamic. What is sad to me, despite this revelation, is that S and I had a wonderful, respectful adult-adult relationship until his cheating triggered the parent-child dynamic. So regaining that original but stronger dynamic with S would take work on my end, if that ever happens in the future.

    Now, what is extremely interesting to me is that with M, my current relationship, I have heavily become the mother in our relationship. Neither of his parents supported him emotionally, usually causing harm or neglecting him, and his mother only gave him food and a roof over his head. She still shuts him out, and is very much not involved with his life despite seeing him on holidays and all of his efforts to connect with her. Even before I moved in with him, M slacked all emotional regulation and household caretaking as I naturally “take care of things” if I see that something needs to be done. Moving in has especially made this so, as I want to live in a comfortable home, and hence a huge reason why I am now moving out. He reproached me for acting like a mom and not a girlfriend, but then treats me like a “mother figure” that cleans up after him and doesn’t require any attention, time, or consideration that comes with an adult mutual relationship…which is what he has with his mother.

     

    To me it seems like M has the same issue with me that I had with S.

    #383446
    Candice88
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you very much for the suggestions. I will definitely look into them.

    #383447
    anita
    Participant

    You are very welcome, Candice88!

    anita

    #383453
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    you’re welcome.  It’s good you realize you need to protect yourself from your mother until she is refusing to take responsibility for her actions.

    Regarding you taking on a mother role with M, perhaps it’s not really surprising, because you did say you need to parent your mother too:

    We have a better relationship now, but I still feel like I have to parent her.

    You also said you had an adult-adult relationship with S, before he cheated. In psychology, there is a term called character structures. Steven Kessler wrote a wonderful book about it, called “The Five Personality Patterns”. There is one personality pattern, called the “compensated merging pattern”, in which the child doesn’t receive the necessary love and nurturance (like it happened in your case), but then builds herself up and becomes a care-taker to their parent, so that she can still be in a relationship with the parent, and feel loved and needed. So the child doesn’t collapse but finds strength in this care-taker persona.

    But it’s a persona, it covers up the original trauma. The person can live relatively normally with this persona far into their adulthood. But when something happens, some triggering event, this persona is shattered and the person reverts to their old traumatized child self.

    I believe this is what might have happened to you. You might have been coping quite fine in your youth, you said you even had a job in a diner at 15, which means you were quite resourceful – despite your trauma. You might have functioned like an adult, perhaps even with a touch of this care-taker persona. This is how you entered the relationship with S. And then it all came crashing down when he cheated on you.

    Do you feel this is what might have happened?

     

    #383469
    Candice88
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

     

    That’s a very good observation. In my youth I wasn’t coping actually, I was severely depressed and had suicidal ideations until I was 17 when I moved to live with my dad. I think I got a job to be able to be more productive and “valuable”. Resourceful is definitely the better word.

     

    I definitely think this is what happened.

    #383470
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    In my youth I wasn’t coping actually, I was severely depressed and had suicidal ideations until I was 17 when I moved to live with my dad.

    I see. Well, you did have a rough time growing up, no wonder you were depressed and suicidal. How is/was your relationship with your father? How were you coping after you were 17? If you feel like sharing some more…

    I think I got a job to be able to be more productive and “valuable”.

    Does it mean your mother made you get a job? Like, she was suggesting you’re worthless and of no use, and so you got a job to look better in her eyes?

    How do you need to parent her nowadays? (Please note, if you don’t want to share more than you’ve already shared, that’s okay. Only share what you feel comfortable with).

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Tee.
    #383501
    Candice88
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

     

    My dad is retired military, and there were periods of time as a small child where I wouldn’t see him. But in between deployments and after they slowed down, he was (and still is) a loving, playful parent. He allowed me to be a child, inspires me, holds space for me, is my biggest cheerleader, and biggest role model. Even though we disagree sometimes as adults, we always discuss our differences rationally and with compassion. I consider him one of my best friends, and I am very, very lucky to have him.

     

    My older sister had the job when she was my age, and I followed suit. I think most things I did at that age were either to avoid my mom’s wrath or in hopes of pleasing her.

     

    How I parent her now is the same as when I was 16 – talking her through her depression and anxiety, helping her put things into perspective, listening. For many years, during visits, she could be found sitting on the stairs or in the hallway crying, and then would literally lean on me apologizing for being “the worst mom in the world”. But never going into any specifics, just spiraling with regret. To which I would initially respond with “Mom it’s okay! We’re fine!”. And then later would respond with a more sterile “It is what it is, mom, stand up.”

    She doesn’t do that anymore, after I told her it seems more like self pity than a true apology a couple years ago. And I’ve already told you her recent response to my efforts to heal specific wounds caused by her.

    #383503
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    thanks for sharing some more. It’s good you have a supportive and understanding father. Did he know about your mother’s abuse while he was deployed? You said you moved to your father’s place when you were 17 – I guess this means your parents divorced at some point?

    I am sorry this all happened to you, Candice. How are you feeling now? When you first wrote you said you can’t stop crying about S…  how is it now?

    #383512
    Candice88
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

    I don’t remember him being present when these things happened. There was a lot of alone time with my mom before the divorce, when I was 8. My dad was stationed to a different state after that and my life was moving often. I lived exclusively with my mom and my abusive stepdad from the ages 11-17.

     

    Thank you so much for asking, I really do appreciate your involvement with all this. I’m not crying as much. I’m still having dreams, still sticking to the logic of focusing on myself while my emotions are telling me that I miss S. I’m trying to do things for myself that are also preparing me for the mess with M that I am returning home to in a few days.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 68 total)

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