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Re-starting with my Ex

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This topic contains 96 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  anita 4 weeks ago.

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  • #230245

    Ben
    Participant

    I had a long term relationship with a lovely guy. But various issues, relational, geographical, visa-related etc kept us apart. To a certain extent maturity did too, and a fear of commiting. We had met just a couple times, but had strong feelings that were more than just “a fling” or a “short-time” thing. But well, we lived in different countries. He visited me for 3 months but after this, we broke up by him blocking me after I became needy, clingy and demanding. Without knowing why.

    Cut to two years later. I’ve moved to his country, I lived here for 9 months not stopping thinking about messaging him, but never quite feeling ready. I was telling myself to develop more etc. Eventually, 2 months ago, I realised there’s nothing left but to message him because I have to move on, either with or without him. In retrospect, I think I never really accepted the relatonship was totally dead in the intervening 2 years. I think I always “knew” that it would resume, which while that could be romantic, I think it could also be I didn’t let myself, my self, move on. I didn’t fully heal my own personal issues. I healed our issues in my head, for sure. I realised all the mistakes I’d made, how at times I’d been foolish or too brusque, too honest etc etc.

    So I met him last Friday. I’d been talking every now and then for a month. We’re going on a 2 week trip together in 2 days. This past weekend we met up, and boy it was a roller coaster. He was just my friend, he said on Friday afternoon. OK, bummer, but I can’t really ask him for anything else, meeting him helped me to start the awkward but necessary process of moving on. But then, well, we spent more time together, we hugged, we talked. He said he had feelings for me again. He said he can see us building a life together. I maintained my cool. Wow, i’ve made progress. I can stop thinking about him when I go home. I’m a bit jealous but i’ll survive.

    Now though my old personal problems are coming back. I’m getting nervous. I’ve internalised so many negative voices. My friend who was always telling me to hound him for not being jealous. My mum who used to make snide comments about gay guys on TV. My father, who kept saying psychology is nonsense, rendering my own progress null. My inner critic, which i’ve read a lot about recently, is going haywire and all the voices are constantly fighting for my attention. It’s got to the point now, I think I actually don’t know how I feel about him sometimes. When i’m with him, I have him, and I have my physical and emotional reaction, happiness and security. But away, all I have is my doubts.

    He doesn’t like me, (he said he wants to marry me), i’m annoying him with all my worrying (he said he’s kind of expecting it), i’m going to ruin this trip with my worrying etc. I spent all this money, i’m gonna be torturing myself getting jealous everytime he talks to his friends. He wanted to stay at a friends house in one of the towns, and asked if there was room for us both but tthere wasn’t so he wants to go by himself (for 1-2 nights out of 15 we’ll spend on the trip), and I can’t stop being jealous, abandoned.

    I don’t know if there’s good advice. I’ve been reading about differentation, attachment theory etc. But I’m lost. I can’t relax. Or what’s worse is I do relax, but only temporarily. I seek reassurance from friends, but all the time at least one says something that “spikes” my anxiety. I’m so worried about this trip. I shared my feelings with him before, and he reassured me. My friends told me I was being clingy again, and I accepted this, and felt better. But, I can’t stop my mind raking over the conversation, micro-analysing everything he says. I can’t concentrate on anything else, or enjoy it. We don’t need to be talking on Whatsapp all the time. It always fills with me doubts I know aren’t there. Yet, he’ll reply and boom i’m there making myself paranoid i’m annoying him.

    It’s killing me. I really, really don’t want all of this. I read about how past experiences can resurface only when we are in love, in a relationship that re-awakens past traumas with attachment. I have it all, bad dad who left, bullying issues etc. I can tell myself that… but Idk where the catharsis is.

    I have a counsellor at the moment. But, i’m leaving Friday so any help is good help right now. I hope the community has some ideas 🙂  Where do I start? I know somewhere, there’s a “process” I can begin that will allow me to simply start to “turn off” these triggers etc and work them out, even by myself.

    #230375

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ben:

    This trip is about the two of you going on it together, as a monogamous intimate couple, correct? If so, his plan to stay overnight with his friends while you stay alone elsewhere is not right. How can it be that his friends have space for him but not for you, it can’t be that your physical body takes that much space…?

    anita

    #230377

    Inky
    Participant

    Hi Ben,

    Of course you feel anxiety! You moved to his country and he’s willing to see you again. Then he says he wants to marry you. Meanwhile he “doesn’t like you” and you have to spend a night or two alone because there’s no room. My goodness, anyone would feel anxious!

    Are you LOCAL in his country relative to him? Or will this be another long distance relationship within the country? Are you certain he won’t feel stalked and that you moved here just for him? (Did you?)

    Well, see how the trip goes, THEN deal with your inner state!

    Good Luck,

    Inky

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Inky.
    #230381

    Ben
    Participant

    Well, its a big university trip, indeed an extension course, of about 35 people. He invited me along when we had only just begun talking again. Indeed, we’re sharing the tent with one of his good friends, which is totally fine with me.

     

    #230383

    Ben
    Participant

    Hi Inky

    So, I moved to his country, in January. He~s finished university, and it seems we will have a chance to be together next january. He’s doing a lot of travelling after finishing uni, most of it booked before we had reconnected.

    I realised too I also need some time to work on my issues in the interim, with my counsellor etc, and seeing what other issues arise. But well, after this trip we will ahve some distance for a while.

    And, your last point. I think I partially did move here for him. I’ve always been interested in this country etc, and when I found out I got a job here, I felt sort of ambivalent. I realise in retrospect I hadn’t done it for myself but to give myself this chance to reconnect.

    I don’t think he feels stalked. But maybe my obsessive behaviour might think I was pre-planning this a lot… idk

    #230393

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ben:

    I thought it was just the two of you going on a trip. It is a group  of 35 people then, I see. I suppose it makes more sense that he will spend a couple of nights with his friends if you stay with the other 34 people, not alone, that is.

    Anxiety is a difficult thing to manage and more difficult, to heal from. It takes a long, long time, lots of patience and persistent effort. There is no way to just get over it. “Re-starting with me Ex” is the title of your thread. The management and healing from anxiety is about re-starting these processes every day anew, multiple times every day. It is about employing relaxation techniques, daily exercise, a daily routine, heathy distractions, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) exercised, most useful: correcting distorted thoughts, replacing those with true thoughts and so for.

    You collect tools in this process of managing and healing from anxiety, place them in a toolbox, so to speak and carry it with you. Then you use this or that tool as needed and according to the circumstance. You try this, if it doesn’t work, you try another.

    I have managed and am still  in the long process of healing from severe anxiety. I will be glad to share with you more, if you’d like.

    anita

    #230425

    Ben
    Participant

    Thanks Anita.

    I’ve always struggled with anxiety. I had counselling for 2 years, aged 16-18, at school, which helped me get over crippling anxiety especially in the social realm. I went to university equipped well, and developed a lot. I think, at 21, I finally developed a full sense of self. Then, my father said something like “oh you’re going to visit Brazil becasue you’re gay, for the men, aren’t you?”, and it was so judgemental it crippled me. I think only today I realised that this was very hurtful, and really destroyed my sense of self.

    This was a week before, indeed, I was going to visit Brazil, and to visit said guy. I had a month in Rio… slightly unattuned to my environment. I was aware of a lack of enjoyment. I was shy, hiding in my room, wasting the opportunity. Then, I went to visit him. I remember, the plane was about to land, and I was so excited, I was going to see him, get to know him, meet all his friends, go to parties, enjoy Brazil, reconnect with myself.

    But, he was 2 hours late picking me up. So what, right? But for some reason, I couldn’t let it go (abandonment issues, I think, from early childhood and dad leaving etc). He arrived, but I was traumatized and so resentful towards him. I think he sensed this and withdrew slightly, and naturally, as we had only met 2 times prior to this. Our first meeting had been in 2013, for 3 days, totally out of hte blue, but heavenly. Then again a couple months later, when jealousy started to appear but I ignored it, blamed myself a lot tho. So I hadn’t seen him for nearly a year, and developed a lot in between when I saw him that time in summer 2014. But, I lost hte opportunity. I was so upset he was late, I ended up being upset the whole time, feeling this, feeling him being uncomfortable etc. But I couldn’t understand. Guilt, regret, frustration came in.

    I think, after this, up to this very moment, I have lacked a strong sense of self. I didn’t even really know my issues until meeting him again and researching the feelings I was having, which was great but a little devastating too.

    Well though, I know exactly what you mean. In a way, its a blessing that it is a long process, as so much healing and learning takes place. I remember this process at university. My sadness, bitterness, resent towards myself tho is because, I went through it and I feel like I lost it all, just because of my father. How could I have lost all that progress? I lost my conneciton to the world, the one exciting connection I made to another person that feels so deep even 2 years of no contact re-ignites it, i’m still sat here in a hump, carrying around all this “gunk” from before.

    To use your metaphor of a toolbox (Which was very helpful actually, to think sometimes we just need another technique), I feel like mine is empty, save for “overthinking”, which is a bit like having a rubber knife in there… totally useless. Sheesh, I really hate myself for losing my healing ability. I feel my growth stopped and i’m in some sort of stasis.

    Haha and my I write a lot I notice! But thank you for the attention.

    #230511

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ben:

    You are welcome.

    You didn’t lose your healing ability (“I really hate myself for losing my healing ability”). We don’t lose it because the healing ability is not of our choosing, it is part of nature. Trees when injured begin healing immediately. Nature does that. We humans often need to get out of the way and let healing take place without interfering with it. Your belief that you lost an ability that is not yours to lose is such an interference.

    Parents need to be careful about what they say to their children, doesn’t matter the age of the child. For a child, a parent is god, what she or he says is powerful. Your father told you something like: “oh you’re going to visit Brazil because you’re gay, for the men, aren’t you?”- a shaming question/statement, isn’t it? As I see it, it says something like: you are going to have sex with men in Brazil! Shame on you.

    You didn’t need to take that with you to Brazil. And then, the guy was late to pick you up and you already, just having arrived to Brazil, had more distress than you were able to handle and still have a good time.

    What is your current relationship with your father?

    anita

    #230547

    Ben
    Participant

    Well now its stable. I think now he sees me as an adult perhaps he default respects me more. He actually gave very good advice or even counsel when my ex blocked me before, that showed he understood what had happened. Though we never openly discussed my sexuality, and indeed never have to this day. I only told mum that “that friend who visited was my boyfriend”… 3 months after he’d left.

    He doesn’t say derisory comments anymore. Or express his disapproval with veiled comments. At the same time there’s a lot of tension. I yearn to open up and to understand him and him to Understand me, but when this happens sometimes I feel disgusting afterwards, or just empty…

    I’m quick to anger tho with him. He eats in a gross way and i can never get through a meal without wanting to turn the table over and tell him to eat like a human. On some level I despise him and hate him but I think I still want a relationship its too late to have, which is a nurturing one in childhood.

     

    Indeed writing this reminds me after I returned from Brazil with all that stress, I really relied on my parents a lot. Prior I had only visited 3 times in my last year of university, and called maybe every 3 or 4 weeks. But after I returned it became a call home everyday and a visit home for 3/4 days every week.

     

    #230557

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ben:

    I will be able to read and reply to your recent post when I am back to the computer in about sixteen hours.

    anita

    #230619

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ben:

    I just realized you must be on that trip at this time. You posted Wednesday, trip started Friday, yesterday. Nonetheless you may be reading this while on the trip or later. I re-read your few posts and here are my comments:

    1. Regarding your parents, how they feel, how you feel: like anyone else, your parents can’t help how they feel about anything, including about sexuality, no more than you can help how you feel about how your father eats. I suppose it is better you avoid being with him while he eats,  so that your distress doesn’t get activated. Similarly, better you don’t discuss certain things with them so to not activate their distress. “we never openly discussed my sexuality”- depending on what you mean by sexuality in this context, maybe there shouldn’t be a discussion. They already know that you are gay. They need not hear details that will activate their distress.

    2. Regarding your parents’ behavior: regardless of how they feel, they are responsible for their behavior. I am glad your father “doesn’t say derisory comments anymore. Or expresses his disapproval with veiled comments”. They have to act respectfully toward you if they want contact with you!

    3. How you feel about your parents in their presence has to do not only with how they behave now but how they behaved with you all along. You have well established memories of thoughts and emotions regarding their past behaviors and interactions with you. These get activated by just seeing them, or hearing their voices, regardless of how nice they may be now. Sooner or later, past memories (of emotion alone) get activated. This is why it may be necessary to see them less, or not at all while you are in the process of healing.

    4. Unfortunately, your parents have a mental representative in you, via thousands of neuropathways in your brain carrying their voices, aka the inner critic. The inner critic talks to you every day and you can’t put a single kilometer between the inner critic and you. Not even a meter. Or a millimeter. It keeps scaring you and distressing you, saying this or that (a thought) and triggering distress.

    5. Healing: I have been healing from severe anxiety and am still in the process. It is so very slow and requires so much patience. I call it excruciating patience. Here is how I did it/doing it: at first, for years in my healing process I overthought what the inner critic told me, analyzing and obsessing. Trying to argue against what it told me. Over time…a long time, I understand its positions, so I no longer need to understand it yet again. I don’t need to take the time to think, analyze and argue with it again. I already did that, I already know its positions,  I already stated my case, no need to do it yet again.

    And so, I hear the thought, feel the distress, recognize what it is, disengage, hush the distress. I don’t escape the distress any which way (which was so very automatic). I feel the distress, stay with it for a bit, accept it, not fight against it, not resist.. and it goes away sooner than later. by itself.

    Thinking prolongs distress, it keeps the distress going  and going.

    When distressed, think: is there something I need to say or do? If there isn’t, stop thinking. Thinking has a purpose, to prepare the thinker for some action. If the action (or no action) has been decided, there is no usefulness to thinking. All thinking accomplishes in that case, is to provide distress a vehicle so it travels in circles through your brain, keeping the distress going and going, maintaining it.

    It is very uncomfortable to do this. You think it will be a great thing to not obsess, correct? But it is uncomfortable to break a mental habit. So you get a distressing thought, it is uncomfortable to not proceed to think, and yet, this is the thing to do for healing, to not think.

    6. The toolbox. You said yours is empty. Because being anxious is so very distressing and the healing process (changing those mental habits) is distressing, you need tools to relax, to take time out, so that you can proceed with the healing and functioning in life otherwise. Here is a random collection of tools:

    -a guided meditation, mindfulness theme- a walk outdoors, in nature- exercise at the gym-post here on your thread- hot tea- a CBT exercise (challenging a distressing thought for accuracy and coming up with true to reality though to replace the one that is distorted)- music- sauna-support group meeting—

    I will be glad to share more with you, if you would like that. Post anytime and I will be glad to reply. I hope the trip is going okay and expect the distress to happen when it happens because it will. Enjoy any moment of peace and/ or joy that is available for you.

    anita

    #230767

    Ben
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Indeed I am on the trip. Lots of things triggering me but i think actually there isn’t much wrong other than my interpretation. He’s talking with his friends a lot but then, they’re his friends. I’m just sat underestimating my ability to talk in Portuguese and not joining in and isolating myself from him and all the others.

     

    My old pattern with him would be blame him, resent him. So I think I’m improving. I notice every time he isn’t with me I’m thinking about why, what I’ve done, or how bad he is for not sticking to me 24/7. A friend of his wanted to practice English. He suggested they sit next to me a while and I died from abandonment… But us that really that bad?

     

    These are the thoughts running through my head all day on the bus. There’s this beautiful scenery and I’m not there just chilling out but thinking this constantly…

    #230887

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ben:

    No matter where we are, the real place where we live is in between our ears. We keep re-living our childhoods. Sometimes we get a break and enjoy this or that, but much of the time we relive the same old, same old. In your case, you are re-living abandonment.

    Try to look at that beautiful scenery, take breaks from the same-old-same-old. When you have abandonment, hurt and angry thoughts, postpone them, say to yourself: I will think of this later. And instead, place your focus on the scenery, on something happening outside of you, the here-and-now.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  anita.
    #230973

    Ben
    Participant

    Hi Anita

    This morning I was upset with him but then it was fine. I felt I’d made progress really.

    And now Idk maybe because I’m tired. Idk I detect changes in how he feels sometimes etc. I mean he said he wanted to take it slow so he’s sure of his decision, but I feel like I don’t know who we are to each other. This morning he corrected himself saying “our school” not “his school”, which is nice I guess. Then this evening he’s distantn.

    But is it just me? We’ve spent nearly 36 hours in the same coach sat next to each other. He’s probably not even thinking about me that much but I’m here like oh god we’ll never work.

    Half the time I think we act like a confident couple that don’t need constant reassurance… That’s what I liked from before, when my identity was stronger. He doesn’t know the full story etc, he tried before to accept my clingyness and neediness as part of the deal.

    I find myself, I feel lost again. I suppose it’s part of the process. Its exhausting and tedious. Idk if he’s helping or exacerbating

    Or if he even wants a relationship. I mean, he saw me again after nearly 2 years only last week. He had moved on, I had not… Its fine he wanted to take it slow.

     

    Or am I ruminating again?

    #231123

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ben:

    You asked if you are ruminating again, of course you are. It is a mental habit at this point, has been for a long time. It will be an “exhausting and tedious” daily practice to not ruminate.

    Like you wrote, you didn’t spend much time with him before and only recently got in touch with him again. The reassurance you are looking for, he can’t give it to you- there is no basis for a trustworthy reassurance, no stable, long term established relationship to provide the reassurance you need. You hang on to a word he used, “our” school, but this is not a real reassurance.

    If you can accept the fact that it is impossible for you at this point or any time soon (maybe never) to receive reassurance from him, you will feel better. You won’t be chasing what is impossible to reach at this point .. or anytime soon. Basically, you are on your own and there is this guy you really like and hope to have more with him. That is all.

    anita

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