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Stuck in limbo, fear or loneliness, fear of hurting her

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  • #380647
    DaveF
    Participant

    Hi everyone, I’m a long-time reader and first-time poster.

    Summary: I (30M) have been wanting to break up with my partner (30F) for a long time, we did for 1 day 2 months ago, but decided to try again, but I fear what is holding me back is worrying about hurting her too much and the fact that we live together, how difficult it might be. I also have had struggles with depression, anxiety, and loneliness in the past and am worried that this is exactly what awaits me if I end this relationship. I cannot afford therapy, and although I have nice friends, many do not have the time or space to really give the support that I feel I might need.

    TLDR: She is a foreign national, who just finished her studies, I am British and we live together in the UK. We met two years ago, shortly after we both came out of very hurtful and painful relationships. My previous ex broke up with me just two months before we met, and I was desperate to be in a relationship at the time. I fell in love with my current partner very quickly and we moved in together at the start of the UK lockdown before we had been together for a year.

    After moving in together, I noticed acutely the red flags of the relationship (which had been there all along), and without blame, we just had very different views on what we like to do for fun, our relationships with friends, our approaches to risk, how we deal with stress, and quite importantly, our differences of sexual expression and passion. This lead to many many small and then larger arguments, with the reoccurring theme of “you just don’t understand me” being echoed by both of us to this day.

    We have both suffered terrible family tragedies in the last 18 months, and have shown great support for each other during this time, she has also been so stressed with her job and the lockdown (being distant from family), that we both developed different coping mechanisms. I would do all I could to get outside, see friends (where possible), exercise and generally cultivate a relationship with myself that I felt I had lost. She (objectively), would not leave the house most days, would work incredibly hard and had very little time for anything else, she didn’t have time to go outside or exercise. This has been the story for the best part of the 1+ year we’ve lived together.

    Sexual expression and physical connection have always been very important values of mine, but I noticed early in our relationship, that sex seemed awkward, difficult, painful, and very normal (there was no spontaneity, no tearing clothes off etc), I told myself that It would improve, and I would get used to it. But unfortunately, we now rarely have sex (once every few months at best), and when we do, the desire and passion seem to have gone entirely. Earlier in the relationship, my advances were often rejected, which lead me to stop trying to rekindle passion, and I am now at a point where I find no sexual attraction. This is not to blame either of us, just objectively to show that we have never had a real physical connection.

    Our relationship now seems entirely platonic, with occasional kisses on the cheek and a hug. I think that both of our needs aren’t being met, as when we argue, it becomes clear that she believes I don’t show enough support and that I don’t understand her, and I feel like she doesn’t entirely understand me either. We have talked about our needs in the past, so when I tried to break up recently, I didn’t expect it to be a massive surprise, but it was not taken well, with begging and very hurtful and difficult statements such as “you will regret this”, “you do not want to leave, you want to be with me”, and “you can’t leave me”. After a day away where we were broken up, I couldn’t take the guilt and had heard my partner refer to things that she wanted to work on and improve in our relationship, so I decided to give things another go.

    Here we are, several months later, and I feel worse. It is clear that I am not showing the kind of commitment to the relationship that I would in a healthy relationship (I am not cheating or anything of course), but my partner doesn’t want to acknowledge this, and is trying her best to be positive and loving. I feel like she deserves so much more, but is probably thinking she doesn’t want to start again (after turning 30). But I feel awful as I know that this isn’t what I want. I fear that another break-up conversation would be too difficult for both of us, that it will be so difficult with us renting a house together, and fear that I will then be on the receiving end of many insults, desperate pleas, hurtful comments (from her and her family), and overall life-wrenching anxious times.

    On top of this, I feel I am losing myself in this relationship. Again, not blame, but I know I am not who I want to be, I feel trapped, and that my needs – physical and emotional – aren’t being met. After the difficult times we have been through in the last 18 months, it feels so scary to try and be on my own right now, but I am conflicted, as I know I want to work on myself but feel like crying every time I see her in the house, as she does not deserve to be hurt.

    Any help or advice would be so so appreciated.

    Much love to you all x

    #380656
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DaveF:

    Did you notice that (1) she threatened you when you tried to break up with her two months ago, having told you: “you will regret this”!, (2) she was aggressive toward you when she stated: “you do not want to leave, you want to be with me”, and “you can’t leave me”!, (3) as a result of her threats and aggression, you are afraid of breaking up with her, living in fear of her and her family: “I fear that another break-up conversation would be too difficult.. fear that I will then be on the receiving end of many insults, desperate pleas, hurtful comments (from her and her family), and overall life-wrenching anxious times”)?

    * the comments you listed that she made sound aggressive, not “desperate pleas”.

    You wrote: “I feel trapped”- trapped by a woman who is using fear and guilt to trap you, so it seems. Being the anxious and conscientious man that you are (not wanting to hurt her, not wanting to blame her), you’ve been easy to trap, so far.

    You mentioned having nice friends- I suggest that you ask for a friend or friends to help you: to be present with you as you pack your belongings (being willing and ready to call the police if she becomes aggressive while you  pack and leave the rented house for good), and then allow you to stay with them for a few weeks while you put your affairs in order regarding the rented house, and finding a new place to live.

    What do you think about my suggestion?

    anita

    #380657
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear DaveF,

    it appears the major thing that keeps you in the relationship is your feeling of guilt, which she is amplifying by desperate begging, telling you you’ll regret it, telling you you can’t leave her, insulting you, and the pressure you feel from her family too. You’re made to be the bad guy, and she sees herself as the victim. You’re afraid of yet another confrontation and being condemned by her.

    On top of that, you say you fear to be on your own again, and it seems it’s a theme for you, because when your ex broke up with you, you were “desperate to be in a relationship at the time”. Also, there’s a practical problem that you’re renting a house together. If you break up, are you afraid that she’d be in an unfavorable situation financially/existentially?

    At the moment, it appears that your feeling of guilt is stronger than your fear of loneliness. You feel trapped in the relationship and “feel like crying every time I see her in the house”. It appears you feel helpless because you can’t bear her accusations, and I think it’s probably because there’s a part of you that believes those accusations. A part of you that believes you’re guilty of something.

    Does this sound true to you?

     

    #380908
    DaveF
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Many thanks for your reply. I really do appreciate your thoughts and feedback. I understand completely where you are coming from, but although these sound like they may be aggressive, they seemed – in the moment – more out of desperation, and I have no fear for my safety in that regard. But genuine thanks to you for your concern of my wellbeing. I recently aired my views that I was struggling in the relationship still and the response was completely different that it was previously. There was genuine understanding and options given of potentially living apart (taking a step back), to see if that helps the relationship. I think I am stuck in the mindset that that may just be a step towards breaking up, rather than something to fix the relationship. I feel so sorry for my partner and my feelings make it hard to hold back the tears most days. I am so scared that if I do take action, I would feel so lonely and regretful, but breaking up is also all I’ve thought about for months.

    Yours,

    D

    #380909
    DaveF
    Participant

    Hi Teak,

    Thank you also for your reply, your words are eternally helpful and thank you for listening.

    You are completely right with your comments, it sometimes just needs someone to say it back to us to really understand the situation. I was terrified of another confrontation, but like I mentioned in my reply to Anita, I actually brought up the subject the other day with my concerns for the relationship, which I was met with less hurtful comments, but with a suggestion to live separately to try to resolve issues.

    You are right, the fear of being on my own is definitely a theme for me, I had a difficult time with a divorced mum and dad as a kid – a mother who was very comforting and loving, and a father who was very distant emotionally and tough on me – I feel that may have taught me some lessons about attaching to people who care about me and trying not to leave them. You are right that I believe those things that she said to me, that I “won’t find someone who loves me like that” or that “I won’t be able to manage on my own”. But I have stronger and stronger feelings that I want to trust myself, and understand that it will be hard but I need to do this for me, and believe in myself.

    When she mentioned living apart, it makes me feel less anxious that she wouldn’t have anywhere to live, as it’s clear we both would find somewhere. But I approach two of my best friends who have a spare room across town, but they aren’t willing to let me sleep in it for 6 weeks or so (as I have a flat that I’ve bought, that should hopefully be good to go in the next couple of months). But this just plays on the theme or feeling lost and lonely, that my best friends wouldn’t help me out temporarily. But I know I shouldn’t take it so personally.

    Sorry for ranting on, but your replies and your thoughts are so so helpful. Thank you

    #380910
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear DaveF,

    you’re very welcome. I am happy to hear that you’ve managed to talk more calmly with your girlfriend and are considering the option to live apart for a while. Also, that you have stronger and stronger feelings that you want to trust yourself and believe you can do it, even if it’s going to be hard. That’s a great attitude, and it shows you do have a certain strength and don’t believe you’re completely helpless and stuck.

    I feel so sorry for my partner and my feelings make it hard to hold back the tears most days.

    It seems there’s a part of you that feels guilty for asserting yourself and having your needs met, and it could be coming from the little boy who didn’t want to burden his mother with his needs, when she was struggling alone, being a single mother?

    I am so scared that if I do take action, I would feel so lonely and regretful,

    This sounds like another part of you, who’s afraid of being abandoned. And it could be because one parent (your father) had already abandoned you, so there’s a threat of that always looming…

    You are right that I believe those things that she said to me, that I “won’t find someone who loves me like that” or that “I won’t be able to manage on my own”. But I have stronger and stronger feelings that I want to trust myself, and understand that it will be hard but I need to do this for me, and believe in myself.

    It’s great that you’re aware of those voices within you, but also, that your confidence is growing and that you feel a strong need to stand up for yourself, to assert yourself.

    Regarding your friends, I understand you’re hurt by their rejection. I don’t know whether there are objective reasons why they can’t take you in (e.g. if they have a family, or a partner who’d feel uncomfortable with another man living in the same apartment for 6 weeks), or it’s rather them not wanting to be disturbed for selfish reasons. You may want to re-evaluate your friendship with them, if you feel they’re really selfish and could have helped you if they wanted to…

    What’s good in the whole story is that you’ll be soon moving to your own flat, which is fantastic, and only need to find a temporary accommodation. Do you have an idea how to bring that about?

    Please free to express whatever it’s on your mind and heart, you’re not “ranting” at all, you’re expressing yourself very coherently and with a lot of self-awareness. I am happy to read from you.

     

    #380916
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DaveF:

    You are welcome and thank you for your appreciation and grace. Following your suggestion that the woman you are living with (I will refer to her as W) is not aggressive, and stating that you have no fear for your safety, I studied your original post and the following two posts with the consideration that W is not aggressive, looking for the reasons for your current emotional struggle being elsewhere. I hope that you are okay with me developing my thoughts here, and that what is to follow will be somewhat, somehow helpful to you (but I understand that it may not).

    In your original post, you wrote about the break-up conversation you had with W: “I didn’t expect it to be a massive surprise, but it was not taken well, with begging and very hurtful and difficult statements such as ‘you will regret this’…  I fear that another break-up conversation would be too difficult for both of us.. fear that I will then be on the receiving end of many insults, desperate pleas, hurtful comments (from her and her family), and overall life-wrenching anxious times”-

    – I am paying attention to your choice of the adverbs and adjectives the words they modify, in the quote above: massive surprise, very hurtful and difficult, too difficult, many insults, desperate pleas, life-wrenching anxious times.

    Looks to me that you tend to magnify unpleasant/ negative experiences and perceive them as much bigger and worse than they really are. Maybe W’s insults and hurtful comments.. were not really insults or hurtful.

    Here are more of your choice of adverbs and adjectives, and the words they modify: “we both came out of very hurtful and painful relationships…After moving in together, I noticed acutely the red flags of the relationship.. We have both suffered terrible family tragedies in the last 18 months..  I noticed early in our relationship, that sex seemed awkward, difficult, painful”-

    very hurtful and painful, acutely noticed red flags, terrible family tragedies, painful sex. If it’s unpleasant- it is magnified in your mind.

    * I am assuming sex was emotionally painful to you, not physically painful.

    Before the recent break-up conversation, you shared: “I fear.. another  break-up conversation.. fear that I will then be on the receiving end of many insults..  terrified of another confrontation”-

    – You magnify the negatives and expect the negatives to be further magnified in the future, escalating into greater negatives and overwhelming you, terrified of what is to come (“fear.. fear.. terrified”).

    You shared about your experience before you met this woman: “I.. have had struggles with depression, anxiety, and loneliness in the past”, and about your childhood, you shared: “I had a difficult time with a divorced mum and dad as a kid – a mother who was very comforting and loving, and a father who was very distant emotionally and tough on me”-

    – this is all you shared about your childhood. Absent are the sounds you heard as a child: perhaps there were arguments between your parents (before they separated and divorced), maybe angry and loud, maybe angry and quiet, maybe the silence between them was tense and threatening. Maybe you were afraid of their next argument, or the next silence treatment one imposed on the other.. Maybe you walked on egg shells, so to speak, waiting for the other shoe to drop, scared, sometimes angry. Maybe in the silence of the home, alert to every sound, your hearing became acute, each sound magnified, so to prepare for danger to come. This can explain your current magnification of potential threats, threats that often do not materialize (do they?):

    “I was terrified of another confrontation, but.. I actually brought up the subject the other day with my concerns for the relationship, which I was met with less hurtful comments, but with a suggestion to live separately to try to resolve issues”- terrified of a potential threat that did not materialize.

    You wrote in regard to living with this woman: “I feel trapped”- trapped as a child perhaps, in the home where you grew up. The child that you were wanted perhaps to take action and run away from home, but he was too scared: (1) he will be so lonely away from home, (2) his mother will be very, very sad if he runs away, and she does not deserve to be hurt.

    Fast forward more than 20 years: “I..  feel like crying every time I see her in the house, as she does not deserve to be hurt… I feel so sorry for my partner and my feelings make it hard to hold back the tears most days. I am so scared that if I do take action, I would feel so lonely and regretful, but breaking up is also all I’ve thought about for months”.

    anita

    #380952
    DaveF
    Participant

    Dear Teak,

    Thank you again for your thoughts. I feel you have really opened my eyes to how I may be feeling and how I am approaching this, both emotionally and practically.

    It seems there’s a part of you that feels guilty for asserting yourself and having your needs met, and it could be coming from the little boy who didn’t want to burden his mother with his needs, when she was struggling alone, being a single mother?

    This really hits home with me, I felt responsible often for my mother’s happiness as a child, because I knew how difficult she had it. I have always been so close with my mother, but was acutely aware how hurt she had been by my father, and I was always torn when going to my dads (and his new partners) house, because they both hurt my mother so much (affairs etc.).

    This sounds like another part of you, who’s afraid of being abandoned. And it could be because one parent (your father) had already abandoned you, so there’s a threat of that always looming…

    Definitely, I have struggled with abandonment issues for many years, when partners have broken up with me, I have tried to hold things together, but have been so emotionally distraught with being left by people and this definitely is compounded with friends and close relationships as well. You are right, my father (who admitted several times) didn’t really want children, but our relationship got better as I became an adult. But that didn’t change the feeling that I constantly fought for my fathers approval and didn’t feel I ever had it. I was a sensitive child and my father just didn’t know how to comfort an upset child.

    And as for my friends, I feel my abandonment issues coming up again in this scenario, I am trying not to judge with thoughts like “if it was me, I would help my best friend out”. They have both said that with their girlfriends being around, having another person in the house would be too crowded, with one of them working from home. I am trying to understand these reasons, but still feel a little resentful. They believe that I will be fine living with my mother temporarily, but she is in a different city, and I don’t want to isolate myself from my friends and work in this city.

    Yes, I have been looking at sharing a house with other young adults in the area, so that has given me some confidence that there are options for temporary housing, I guess it is a little daunting and scary, but as you and Anita have both mentioned, it seems I have a tendency to amplify fears and negative emotions, so I am working on cultivating mindfulness and calmness to let be what will be, even if there are some temporarily uncomfortable times.

    Please free to express whatever it’s on your mind and heart, you’re not “ranting” at all, you’re expressing yourself very coherently and with a lot of self-awareness. I am happy to read from you.

    Thank you, you really have no idea how much this is helping to share and hear all of your thoughts on this platform, I wish I would have reached out sooner. I am eternally grateful for this 🙂

     

    #380953
    DaveF
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you also for your responses, they are so helpful. I will echo the sentiment that both yours and Teak’s comments are really helping so much right now in this difficult time, I can’t thank you both enough.

    Looks to me that you tend to magnify unpleasant/ negative experiences and perceive them as much bigger and worse than they really are. Maybe W’s insults and hurtful comments.. were not really insults or hurtful.

    This is really eye-opening to me, it had not occurred to me that I am magnifying these difficult thoughts/scenarios. It may be a habit I have developed over several broken-down relationships, uncomfortable family dynamics as a child, and being susceptible to depression and anxiety. I am admittedly a sensitive person, and I feel emotions very acutely, especially empathy, and I often feel others’ sadness strongly. This has given me so much to think about, to try and control my emphasizing of negative feelings and scenarios.

    * I am assuming sex was emotionally painful to you, not physically painful.

    In fact, it was more painful for my partner, she struggling to express herself sexual and struggling with feelings of guilt and a lack of physical desire (things she has told me in the past). But due to my openness to sex and sexual expression, I think I struggling with feelings of rejection when my desire for sexual closeness was met with my partner not wanting to, if that makes sense?

    – this is all you shared about your childhood. Absent are the sounds you heard as a child: perhaps there were arguments between your parents (before they separated and divorced), maybe angry and loud, maybe angry and quiet, maybe the silence between them was tense and threatening. Maybe you were afraid of their next argument, or the next silence treatment one imposed on the other.. Maybe you walked on egg shells, so to speak, waiting for the other shoe to drop, scared, sometimes angry. Maybe in the silence of the home, alert to every sound, your hearing became acute, each sound magnified, so to prepare for danger to come. This can explain your current magnification of potential threats, threats that often do not materialize (do they?):

    This is very interesting, I was too young when my mother and father divorced, but because we lived in another country, my mother raised me for 2 and a half years in the country I live in now and I didn’t really meet my father until I was a little older when he moved closer, my mother informs me that I was very scared and hesitant towards him, and we didn’t form a strong connection. I remember a lot of sadness from my mother, so what you said makes sense – I did not want to cause my mother any further hurt, and my fathers temper and his dislike of children meant I definitely walked on egg-shells around him so as not to make him angry. He would often be very angry at normal child-like things, such as dropping something, or not understanding a difficult concept.

    You wrote in regard to living with this woman: “I feel trapped”- trapped as a child perhaps, in the home where you grew up. The child that you were wanted perhaps to take action and run away from home, but he was too scared: (1) he will be so lonely away from home, (2) his mother will be very, very sad if he runs away, and she does not deserve to be hurt.

    This really resonates with me, I think I felt trapped between two parents – my mother whom I wanted to make happy and shower with love and prevent from being upset, and my father who I was scared to see but was forced to be with every other weekend, I would often cry whilst at his house as I missed my mother. I definitely wanted to run away from this, and I felt so lonely when away from my mother (1), I always felt acutely sad for my mother when we were with my father and the woman that he had had an affair with when with my mother (2), I could not bare to upset her.

    Fast forward more than 20 years: “I..  feel like crying every time I see her in the house, as she does not deserve to be hurt… I feel so sorry for my partner and my feelings make it hard to hold back the tears most days. I am so scared that if I do take action, I would feel so lonely and regretful, but breaking up is also all I’ve thought about for months”.

    You have no idea how much this brings home these feelings, the comparison with my mother – the female care giver whom I didn’t want to upset, and my current partner, the now female care giver whom again, I do not want to upset. Knowing these things really is helping in understanding why I am struggling with these matters. Is there anything you would suggest that helps with these feelings? I am trying to cultivate mindfulness and close relationships with friends, but as I mentioned, I feel a little disappointed by my closest nearby friends at the moment. But in a way this gives me the strength and desire to be OK on my own temporarily, to be strong and resiliant.

    Thank you again for all your thoughts, reaching out on this platform has been the most helpful thing I have done in a long time.

    D

    #380956
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear DaveF,

    thank your for your words of appreciation, I am very happy I could help.

    I think the most important right now is that you’re aware of what’s going on and that the situation with your girlfriend reminds you of your childhood and is triggering the old wounds. It seems that by simply being aware of it and understanding it, you’re already finding some inner strength and aren’t feeling so lost and helpless.

    You did have a challenging childhood, with your father divorcing your mother when you were very little, and you only getting to know him when you were around 2,5-3 years old. Just this fact alone made it difficult for you to bond with him, and on top of that came his character, the fact that he didn’t know how to behave around children (didn’t even want to have one) and was impatient and angry for you simply being a child.

    I constantly fought for my fathers approval and didn’t feel I ever had it.

    You probably never felt good enough for your father, and this might be at the core of your beliefs “I won’t find someone who loves me like that” or “I won’t be able to manage on my own”. The first belief is that you’re difficult to love (which is how you felt with your father, I believe), and the second is that you’re incapable for success, that you’re not really able to manage things in life. This too might be originating from your father, criticizing you for dropping something, or when you couldn’t understand some difficult concept that he was explaining to you.

    So it seems your feeling of insecurity and lack of trust in yourself comes from your father. While the guilt part comes from trying to make your mother happy, but never really succeeding because you couldn’t take away her sadness – because it wasn’t you who caused it in the first place. She was sad and was suffering because she had been betrayed by your father, who left her with a small child and had an affair with another woman. She wasn’t sad because she had you (you say she was very comforting and loving), but because your father betrayed her. Maybe it was also because she wasn’t a strong, self-confident person, so she couldn’t move on but got stuck in the pain and sorrow and pitying herself.

    If so, it was impossible to make her happy and take away her pain, but you still tried, and failed, and then blamed yourself for not succeeding. That’s a typical child’s reaction to their parent’s pain – they blame themselves. Now that I think about it, perhaps a part of your lack of trust in yourself stems from this inability to make your mother happy, no matter how hard you tried? This might have contributed to your depression too.

    With your best friends rejecting you in time of need, perhaps it triggers the pain of the little boy who felt rejected and not welcome by his father? If so, try to connect to that little boy and tell him that he’s loved and appreciated and that you welcome him with open arms. Try to be a big brother to that little boy, try to be his protector and spokesperson. See how that goes. The more love, appreciation and encouragement you can give to that little boy, the easier it will be for you moving forward.

    I know it’s easier said than done, but just try to be aware of that hurt little boy inside of you, and that his needs weren’t met. Don’t blame him but try to have compassion for him, embrace him and represent his interests whenever you can. And let us know how it goes 🙂

    #380957
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DaveF:

    You are welcome. It is a pleasure for me to communicate with a person as kind and gracious as you. This will be a long post because I want to attend to different things before I answer your question best I can. You may be less grateful to me as you read this post because I will bring up things that I imagine will disturb you. Please take your time reading, and you are welcome to stop reading at any time. My purpose is not to disturb you, but to bring up ideas that may improve your life-experience long- term if you evaluate, process and accept them to be true or partly true.

    You shared that you were “too young” when your mother and father divorced, that you and your mother lived in the U.K. while your father lived in a different country for 2.5 years, and you didn’t meet him until he moved to the U.K., when you were “a little older”. When you met him, you were “very scared and hesitant towards him”, your mother says.

    “I always felt acutely sad for my mother when we were with my father and the woman that he had an affair with when with my mother.. I was always torn when going to my dad’s (and his new partner’s) house, because they both hurt my mother so much (affairs etc.)”-

    – your father had an affair with a woman “when with (your) mother”- I don’t know how long your parents’ marriage lasted legally, but reads like practically, they lived together for a short time, a few years at the most, and were separated when you were too young to notice or remember (maybe you were only a  baby). And yet, you felt “acutely sad” because your father had an affair or affairs at a time you can’t remember, too long ago.

    I am assuming that your mother told you about the affair or affairs when you were a young boy, otherwise, you wouldn’t have known. It would have been a good thing for you, to be shielded from this unnecessary information. If you were shielded from this information, you wouldn’t have felt acutely sad for your mother and perhaps feeling guilty for visiting your father, and having to be nice to the people you believed hurt your mother so badly.

    If I am correct, and it is your mother who told you about an affair or affairs,  then she had burdened you unnecessarily, placing you in a very uncomfortable position whenever you were around your father, and otherwise, being acutely aware of what a child should not be made aware of. When a mother expresses to a child in his first decade of life, that she is very hurt and sad, if she does this excessively and repeatedly, the child is not mature or objective enough to not sink into his mother’s hurt and sadness, and drown in it, so to speak. A child feels too intensely for his mother, her hurt is magnified in his mind.

    Acutely made aware of your mother’s hurt, you did not want to cause her further hurt, you wanted to make her happy and shower her with love  (“I did not want to cause my mother any further hurt.. I wanted to make happy and shower with love”)- you wanted to make it up to your mother for what she did not receive from your father, (or from any other man, I assume): (1) protect her from hurt, (2) shower her with love.

    “I could not bare to upset her.. I felt responsible often for my mother’s happiness as a child because I knew how hurt she had been by my father”- this is a recipe for a bad childhood, to have things turned upside down: the child feeling responsible for the mother, instead of the other way around.

    About your father, you wrote that during your visits at his home, he was very distant emotionally and tough on you, that he had a temper and disliked children, that he got “very angry at normal child-like things, such as dropping something”, that you “walked on egg-shells around him so as not to make him angry”, that you constantly fought for his approval and never felt you had it.

    “I was a sensitive child”, “I am admittedly a sensitive person, and I feel emotions very acutely, especially empathy, and I often feel others’ sadness strongly”- I don’t think that you were born more sensitive than other babies, I think that you were made more sensitive than other children because your mother exposed you to information that would greatly disturb any child. She exposed you to too much of her hurt and sadness, and that would disturb any child as well. And you were then exposed to your father’s temper and dislike of children during your visits at his home.

    Parents need to contain their strong emotions so to not overwhelm their child, because the child’s brain naturally magnifies his parents’ emotions. It seems to me that you were overwhelmed by your mother’s expressed hurt and during visits with your father- you were overwhelmed by his anger.

    “I definitely wanted to run away from this, and I felt so lonely when away from my mother.. have been so emotionally distraught with being left by people and this definitely is compounded with friends and close relationships as well”-

    –  when you started feeling responsible for your mother (to protect her from further hurt, to shower her with love), there was no longer anyone to acknowledge you as a child, a child who needs the protection and love of a protector. The child that you were was left alone while you tried to be an adult for your mother, an impossible task for any child.

    “the comparison with my mother – the female care giver whom I didn’t want to upset, and my current partner, the now female care giver whom again, I do not want to upset. Knowing these things really is helping in understanding why I am struggling with these matters. Is there anything you would suggest that helps with these feelings?”-

    – You shared earlier that you cannot afford therapy. If you could- therapy with a competent, quality therapist would be best. Other than that, let me know what you think/ feel about what I posted here today. Posting here in your thread may lead you to a better understand of yourself, and that will be a good thing. I suggest that you take it a post at a time, at your pace (no rush). Posting and reading will at times be distressing and maybe overwhelming, so take your time and remember: reading and posting here is a matter of your choice, you can stop any time.

    anita

    #381392
    DaveF
    Participant

    Hi Anita and Teak,

    As you both have so kindly mentioned, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the reasons for my inner turbulence regarding the situation I am in, and I have taken some time before replying to really try and get to know myself and understand myself. The things you have mentioned from your objective point of view have been so valuable. It really does make a lot of sense that my relationship with my mother and my father at a young age has influenced my relationships with not only myself, but my partners as an adult. I have been speaking with a counsellor which has also helped, and I have shared some of the things we have talked about on this thread, he agrees that this would make a lot of sense.

    My ongoing fears of loneliness and making the caregiving females in my life unhappy or sad have given me many things to work on. I have been meditating, practicing mindfulness in everyday tasks and have tried to cultivate a strong and encouraging relationship with myself. These things have really helped, as well as trying to nurture the inner child in me, who had so much fear. I actually continued to speak honestly with my partner, and a week ago, we did break up. We are, however, still living in the same house, and although this has some difficulties, we are amicable and are trying to cause one another the least amount of stress in the process, whilst we decide on our future living arrangements.

    It is clear now, that my fears – of both my own loneliness and upsetting someone I care about – were definitely over exaggerated, it may be a cliche, but things weren’t as bad as I predicted them to be. Yes, it is sad and we are both in the process of grieving a relationship that we both learned so much from, and grew as people in. But I do not have any doubts, and there is a positive option of us being friends in the future, as we have both expressed that we have a lot of admiration and care for each other, but I appreciate that this is down to circumstances, and if it is too difficult for one or both of us, then that is that.

    Overall I am feeling positive about the future, hopeful, yet grieving the loss, but with plans going forward, I feel stronger and more resiliant. I have comforted the inner child in me and cultivated the things in my life, like friends, hobbies, exercise, that make me feel content and positive.

    I wanted to truly thank both of you for your help in this difficult time, your insight, empathy and understanding has truly made me feel understood and so thankful that there are people like you out there. I understand that there may be ups and downs in the coming months, so I say that I may again reach out, but I completely understand if you do not have the time or space if that happens, to respond.

    My unending thanks and love.

    Dave

    #381396
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Dave:

    You are very welcome and I do have the time and space to read from you and reply to you, so please do post anytime you would like to.

    I am glad that you benefited from our communication as well as from speaking with the counsellor you spoke to, and hope you continue your mindfulness practices and nurturing the child in you, helping him when he is scared. One exercise you can do for your inner child is to let him write or type away his thoughts using his words, that is, using the words of a five year old, or a nine year old- raw, organic, unaffected by adult-reading and education. Let him express himself when he is scared or happy.. or angry. You can do this in an Inner Child Journal/ Diary where he can draw and color as well, if he so chooses- something you can do at home, in private.

    anita

    #381402
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Dave,

    you’re very welcome. It’s a real pleasure to read about your progress and your positive, optimistic attitude. You’re doing a great job in understanding yourself, and developing a nurturing, compassionate relationship with yourself. This helped you communicate your true feelings and desires to your girlfriend, which led to separating amicably and with respect for each other. That’s amazing. I am glad you’ve spoken to a counselor too, who helped you further.

    It’s also good to hear that you’re doing hobbies, exercising, spending time with friends… all those are great resources which energize you and help you stay on track.

    If at any point you’d start feeling down or experience doubts, please feel free to post about it. I’ll be happy to read and help if possible. Wishing you all the best moving forward!

     

    • This reply was modified 1 day, 6 hours ago by TeaK.
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