August 16, 2019 at 2:01 pm #308245
This is a long story so thank you in advance for reading. 18 months ago my mother was killed in a freak accident. My then-fiancé travelled back to my hometown with me but almost as soon as we got there he started freaking out and having panic attacks. He’d been going through a really difficult time for the last few years with his own family stuff, plus he has an illness that he’s never really accepted or dealt with. Everything had been compounded in the four months before my mother’s death when he cut off contact with his own mother because he couldn’t cope with her anymore. He spiralled after that and at one point told me that he didn’t know if he could cope with being in a relationship anymore. He went away for a few days to think, and when he came home he told me that he loved me and wanted to be with me and work through everything together. Two weeks later my mother died and everything fell apart.
Two days before her funeral he announced that he was going back, he couldn’t cope with being there anymore. I was so distraught and confused about what had happened to my mother that I didn’t have the headspace to deal with him freaking out anyway so I was almost relieved, but horrified at the same time. But I understood that he was really struggling so I let it go. The funeral came and went, and the day after we buried my mother’s ashes, he phoned me and told me that he needed a ‘break’. This was when it really hit me. I knew he didn’t mean a break, I knew he wanted out. I was shocked that he couldn’t wait to tell me to my face, as I was going back to our home in a few days.
When I did go back and see him face to face we had a long talk and he said that because of everything he had been going through he didn’t have it in him to support me through this and so he had to leave. He felt like he couldn’t be in a relationship, he needed to be on his own to sort out his issues. I was devastated, but I still felt a huge amount of compassion for his suffering and so we parted amicably. We kept in touch for the next few months while we sorted out leaving our rented house, dividing up our stuff, sorting out finances etc. The last time I saw him he wrote me a big long letter outlining his need to be alone etc. etc. and with that we went our separate ways. One of the last things he said to me was ‘I thought you could save me, but I now know you couldn’t. Only I can save me.’
In the intervening months I’ve been doing better than I thought I would be. I’ve been having therapy, and few weeks ago I had a really healing session with my therapist where I ended up with a beautiful visualisation of the two of us hugging and I really felt like I’d made peace with everything and could finally look back on our six years together with fondness rather than just sadness.
Then a week ago, I found out he was seeing someone else. When I did, I stupidly went on to his Instagram and he’d posted several posts about her, about how utterly amazing she was and how she’d helped him learn to live laugh and love again. It looks like they’ve been together for no more than a couple of months but the ‘l word’ is being bandied about liberally, like it was with me after that short a time. To say I was stunned was an understatement. Less than a year after he’d wrote me that letter here he was throwing himself headlong into another relationship. I am in utter turmoil. Comparing her to me, wondering why I wasn’t good enough, wondering what I could have done differently. Because if he *is* capable of being in a relationship but not with me then it has to be me, right?! I was also furious that he showed no compassion, empathy or respect for me by flaunting it so openly on social media. He knew I’d find out, we still have a lot of mutual friends.
I just don’t know what to think. Am I overreacting given the time it’s been, or given what he did to me am I right to be angry? I just don’t know anymore. I’m barely coping. I’m suicidal. After grieving my mother and my relationship I don’t know if I have the strength to grieve the relationship all over again, which it feels like I’m doing. Or maybe it’s grieving the person I thought I knew.
Any insights would be wonderful. Or advice. Or happy stories about making it through after a shitty breakup.
Thank you for reading. xAugust 16, 2019 at 3:23 pm #308265
You always have a right to your feelings. Your anger is understanding considering that he told you that he wasn’t ready for a relationship then turns around to start another one. It is natural to start comparing yourself against the other woman.
My take is that he is still looking outside himself to provide what he does not have, qualities that would “save” him. He still has his illness and still probably has not worked through his family issues. Time to cut him off and don’t look at his social media.
In other words, nothing about him has really changed that will make him a good partner for you (or probably for anyone else). Go back to therapy for wanting to kill yourself is not a good sign.
MarkAugust 16, 2019 at 3:40 pm #308267
I want to add this excerpt from an article I found online:
“The most important thing we need to do to heal the emotional wound rejection creates is to revive our self-esteem by focusing on what we do bring to the table, whether the rejection was by a romantic partner, a prospective employer, or a neighbor,” Winch says.
Making a list of positive qualities you know you already possess can curb negative self-talk after the ego blow, and help you to bounce back sooner.August 16, 2019 at 5:41 pm #308283
“if he is capable of being in a relationship but not with me then it has to be me, right?!”- wrong. From what you shared about him he is not capable of being in a healthy relationship (regardless of who you are or who is the current girlfriend) because he is very troubled and has been troubled for a long time.
He got scared, ended it with you ASAP, not considering appropriate time and place (should have waited and done so in person), then told you: “I thought you could save me, but now I know you couldn’t. Only I can save me”, that was one of the last things he told you.
Following having said that, he didn’t manage to save himself, met another woman and latched on to her, making-believe that she will save him. It is now a matter of time before he gets disillusioned and figures.. she too cannot save him.
“It has to be me, right?!”- no, it is not you. This man is desperate to be saved- a desperate man is not selective, this is why it all happened so fast. If he was a considerate man before, he is not anymore; Maybe he is even more desperate than he was before.
My suggestion: Don’t follow his way, the desperate way. Instead be resourceful, figure out what you value most, set a few goals for yourself according to what you value, then plan how to accomplish those goals and go for it.
What do you think about my suggestion?
August 17, 2019 at 8:04 am #308349
- This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by anita.
Dear Anita and Mark,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses. What you both say makes a lot of sense, and in my clearer moments I completely agree. But it’s so hard to accept that he has shown so much disregard for me having been a wonderful partner for so long. I keep imagining the blissful time he’s having now with his new girlfriend, because the early stages of our relationship were utterly blissful. And convincing myself that he’s mended his ways and he’ll treat her differently because she’s worth it and I wasn’t. I just keep going in that cycle of agreeing with what you both said and slipping back into beating myself up. I suppose all I can do is ride it out and hope that the pain lessens with time.
BxAugust 17, 2019 at 8:56 am #308355
You are welcome.
You wrote: “the early stages of our relationship were utterly blissful”- you felt bliss, it was your emotional experience because of how you perceived him and the relationship at the time. What you perceived was most likely not true to reality, you imagined he was a man who he truly wasn’t and you imagined the relationship was what… it wasn’t.
In yet other words: the bliss was your subjective emotional experience, it was not an objective reality.
“And convincing myself that he’s mended his ways”- an emotionally troubled person, for as long as he has been troubled, cannot just .. mend his ways. Mending the brain takes years.
“she’s worth it and I wasn’t.. slipping back into beating myself up”- how long ago did this start, this feeling that you are worth less than others?
anitaAugust 17, 2019 at 9:17 am #308361
I totally agree with what Anita is saying here. This man will keep repeating these cycles of blissful beginnings to then running away until he, himself, fixes whatever he feels he needs saved from. They may be feeling blissful now (honeymoon stage… it isn’t real), but their relationship is likely to go the same way yours did. It definitely has nothing to do with your worth or the next girl’s worth or anything comparing you two. It’s him and his issues.
I would take this time to work on your feelings about yourself, though. Figure out what makes you feel less than (other than the blow to your ego, which will naturally heal over time) and work on that. Figure out things that might make you feel better about yourself… maybe a new hobby, learning something you’ve always wanted to learn, new hair cut/style, etc. And learn to appreciate all of the good things about yourself…. we all have our bad things. All of us (even the new girl). But we also have plenty of good things that far outshine any bad. I’m sure you have lots and lots of qualities and values that make you worth your weight in gold.August 18, 2019 at 6:44 am #308429
Thank you so much for your response. I can barely get out of bed at the moment so the thought of new hobbies etc. just seems impossible to me right now. I’ve had episodes of depression before but the one thing that always kept me going was hope, and I have lost that now. I can’t see a positive future for myself at all (not just because of him but other complications relating to family, where I’m living, work etc.). I’m trying to just take it one day at a time but when my mind does inevitably stray to the future I just feel this horrible bleakness that scares me so much.
BAugust 18, 2019 at 7:12 am #308431
Are you back in therapy? It sounds like you need to reset for you are in the midst of being depressed. Yes, take one day at a time.
You are projecting out to a future that you constructed to be the worse case scenario. I recommend writing down an alternative future for yourself. Have a better one for your mind to stray to. You can even share that with us if you wish.
MarkAugust 18, 2019 at 8:59 am #308455
I can see how depression would make it hard to do things and even have the desire too, but it’s been proven to help, and even if it just helps a little bit, it will get you moving forward toward feeling better. Even if you start really small. Get outside into nature if you can and just sit and enjoy the sounds and sights. I know it’s really, really hard to do when you’re in the middle of it, but take small steps. Would you be able to see a counselor?August 18, 2019 at 11:42 am #308481
Here is part of a guided meditation I like (Meditation 4: breath and body, by Mark Williams):
The deep stillness we seek does not arise because the world is still or the mind is quiet. Stillness is nourished when we allow things to be just as they are for now. In this moment, moment by moment, breath by breath.”
Here is a part of a poem I like (Hokusai Says, by Roger Keyes):
“He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear…
He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you”.
anitaAugust 18, 2019 at 12:21 pm #308487
Dear Mark, Valora and Anita,
Yes, I am still in therapy, but it feels as though I’m plugging a hole in the wall of a dam with my finger. And part of me is angry and thinking, I’ve been working on myself for 4 years now! Surely I should be coping better than I am. And feeling like I’m just fundamentally damaged, broken, and no amount of trying to fix myself will work.
Thank you all again for your insights. I deeply appreciate you taking the time to reply to me as you have.
BAugust 18, 2019 at 2:16 pm #308499
I understand your frustration of not feeling you have made progress in yourself. I can only offer encouragement. I have felt similarly in the past with myself. Be lovingly patient with yourself. Have faith that you are getting healthier. It’s a lifelong process. Journal out your pain, your frustrations, your revised future life of optimism. I am sure when you look back on it, you will see how far you have come. When you are the midst of your pain and sorrow, it is hard to acknowledge you are doing better. Usually we wish faster and more dramatic progress but that is where patience, hope and faith comes in. This is where persistence comes in. This is where self love comes in.
MarkAugust 19, 2019 at 9:38 am #308573
Let me process best I can the little that you shared here and see if I come up with something new to me:
1.5 years ago your mother was killed in a freak accident.
You were engaged at the time with a man, six year long relationship, living with your fiancé in a rented house away from your hometown. (You wrote later: “the early stages of our relationship were utterly blissful” and that you were “a wonderful partner for so long”). You and him traveled together to your hometown where the funeral was about to take place.
the early stages of our relationship were utterly blissful
Soon after arriving to your hometown, he “started freaking out and having panic attacks”. You then went on to mention his family experience, his relationship with his mother, his illness, his struggles in the relationship with you, what he said to you.
Then you shared a bit about yourself: “I was so distraught and confused about what had happened to my mother that I didn’t have the headspace to deal with him.. so I was almost relieved, but horrified at the same time”. He left your home town before the funeral, and he phoned you the day after burying your mother’s ashes, while you were still in your hometown, and broke up with you.
“I was shocked that he couldn’t wait to tell me to my face”. When you were back to the rented house you shared with him he told you that he can’t be in a relationship. “I was devastated, but I still felt a huge amount of compassion for his suffering and so we parted amicably”.
One of the last things he said to you was “I thought you could save me, but I now knw you couldn’t. Only I can save me”. Following that you did well for a long while, close to a year, but a week ago you found out that he has been seeing someone else for about two months and you read what he posted about her on Instagram: “about how utterly amazing she was and how she’d helped him learn to live laugh and love again”.
Your response: “I am in utter turmoil. Comparing her to me, wondering why I wasn’t good enough, wondering what I could have done differently… it has to be me… am I right to be angry?… I’m barely coping… I don’t know if I have the strength to grieve the relationship all over again… Or maybe it’s grieving the person I thought I knew”-
– this is the something new to me that I am coming up with: I think that “the person I thought I knew” in the above quote is you, specifically, you in the role of Savior.
I think that your interest, or great motivation in your relationship with him, in your mind and heart, was to be his savior, to save him from his family troubles, from his distress and his misery.
It is when you found out that he is seeing another woman who succeeded in saving him (he has been posting “how utterly amazing she was and how she’d helped him learn to live laugh and love again“), that you felt the failure of your efforts to save him.
Before he left you he told you that he thought you could save him- because you did try to do just that, to save him. He told you then that it will not work because he has to save himself. You were sort of okay with it because it was not that you failed- it was that he had to save himself. When you found out a week ago or so that he was seeing another woman who succeeded in saving him, so it seems, it is then that your perception of yourself as a failure became acute, in your awareness.
Feeling like a failure, you wrote: “she’s worth it and I wasn’t… beating myself up… feeling like I’m just fundamentally damaged, broken, and no amount of trying to fix myself will work”-
I figure no amount of you trying to fix and resurrect your Savior Role will work, that is the broken part of you. And it is a good thing, because now you have the opportunity to let go of this role and be who you really are, a human, not a savior.
What do you think?
anitaAugust 19, 2019 at 9:40 am #308575
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