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Telling the difference between gut and fear in relationships

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  • #432632
    seaturtle
    Participant

    A Journal Entry

    The past three days I have felt a shift in my energy. I feel sad and helpless. I can manage the feelings because I do see that they sweep over me like waves and eventually fall away. However, they are not fun.

    Last night I needed to journal before going to sleep in order to give my mind a rest. I journaled about how “sometimes I miss him while simultaneously knowing he is wrong for me.” I feel repetitive for saying this, but despite my best efforts to want to just let go completely, it seems it’s like a boomerang, just as I think it is the farthest it has ever been, it comes shooting back. I carry some guilt and wonder over having a conversation before breaking up saying “I need … from you or I need to leave the relationship.” I think this seed of thought was planted when he came over and said things like I gave up on him and that he lost himself for the second half of the relationship. But then, I recall having doubts about trusting him with my emotions earlier than halfway through. Him being late, when I told him it hurt my feelings, him forgetting about me and prioritizing so many things over our relationship while I was left to figure out why I felt like he was not present or very loving. His lack of self awareness made it almost impossible for him to take responsibility, that turned into so much gaslighting of my feelings and thoughts about the state of our relationship. I know leaving the relationship, in the state that it was in, was the right thing to do, and most respectful thing I could do for my self. But I fear that he will improve for someone else, and it was me who wasn’t worth it, that I didn’t do enough in the relationship. My desire is to just fully let go! And I feel like I have.. but then this boomerang came back to me the past 3 days or so.

    The shift in my energy lead to me looking up stages of a breakup/grief, and I wonder if this change in my energy is a temporary new stage I just got to..

    1. Denial – I feel like I sort of glossed over this one since I am the one that ended it.

    2. Shock – I went straight to shock after the breakup, and here did a lot of preventative work, reminding myself every moment of doubt why I did what I did and re-realizing it was the right thing, every time. I feel like I did this stage as healthy as I could.

    3. Anger – I did visit this stage. This was a more obvious stage as anger is an easy emotion for me to detect. This was a short stage though because it fueled my reasons why it was right to leave, so it was actually helpful.

    4- Bargaining – says online it is “imagining ways to have handled the situation differently.” I spent a lot of time here, perhaps one of the hardest stages because I have faced many things that I could have done better in the relationship. But here I reminded myself that I truly exhausted myself trying to mend the relationship, I know I did my best with the emotional resources I had.

    5- Depression and Sadness – When I read this this morning I immediately felt I fell into this category right now and the past 3 days. He has entered my dreams, the things I liked are all bubbling to the surface, the comfort the relationship brought physically and mentally, to have someone to have dinner with, always a Sunday morning friend. All of the good memories we had are playing games in my mind saying I will never have it that good again.. I am pretty sure this is a lie but I am afraid it is right and that my path won’t ever lead me to another partner… After all, who am I to think I deserve that from life? I am looking forward to the next stage to hold me through… but this stage is where I find myself wanting to be the most self destructive… these emotions are uncomfortable and I find myself wanting to escape them with alcohol, weed, tv, even contacting him.. this is the most tempted I have been and that is hard for me to even confess.. quick dopamine activities. But I always feel worse the next day after quick dopamine, but I am finding it hard to be inspired to do the things I usually love like running/yoga or talking with friends. Even when I bring myself to run, or I just tried tai chi (which I loved) on Saturday, the joy is temporary and in a matter of hours I am back to the sadness.

    6- Acceptance – “things will start to feel more positive”

    7- moving on, “true disengagement.”

    I am not sure what I need at the stage I am in right now, all I know is I don’t want to be here, but growing from it is giving me a drop of hope!

    Seaturtle

    #432633
    seaturtle
    Participant

    More on the Denial stage, I think I went through that stage before the relationship actually ended.

    Seaturtle

    #432634
    seaturtle
    Participant

    Dear Helcat,

    I decided to read back the messages on this forum to remind myself of advice I may have forgotten. One of the first things you said to me on page one, october 6th was:

    I’m trying to think how I knew that I wanted to be with my husband.

    I would say that with him I felt loved and accepted for the first time in my life. I felt like I could share everything, not just the good parts of me. He accepted even the parts of me I don’t like about myself.

    This brought me some comfort to re-read because I did not feel this way in my relationship, and to know it is out there is what I think I need to hear right now. Even though I still find myself wondering if will ever find it. In my relationship I felt I would be judged for certain things based on his previous reactions, so I did not let him see me completely relaxed and flawed. I want to be this way with someone some day and hope I am able to, and that the problem is not just me.

    Seaturtle

    #432640
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Seaturtle

    I’m sorry to hear that you are hurting going through the depression and sadness stage. Well done on all of your hard work going through most of the other stages already.

    It sounds like part of you is doubting yourself a bit.

    On the one hand, you know that you made the right decision and don’t believe some of the things your ex and your fears suggest. On the other, you are taking to heart the times when your ex blamed you. I don’t think what he said was true. You didn’t give up on him. He gave up long before you did. You tried really hard for a long time and kept asking for him to try too. He refused.

    One person can’t keep a relationship going. Both people need to try. No one is perfect in relationships but as long as both people try things can work out.

    It’s good that you also have good memories of the relationship, not just bad ones. It’s okay to miss those. You will always have the good memories. But the good didn’t outweigh the bad. It didn’t change the fact that you felt terribly unseen in the relationship and he simply wasn’t the right person for you. These things happen unfortunately when dating, it isn’t easy or pleasant. But it doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong. Quite the opposite, it was very mature of you to recognize when someone isn’t right for you. I honestly think you tried to handle it with compassion and gave him every chance to treat you the way you deserve to be treated.
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>You are a beautiful person inside and out, no doubt. I hope that the next person you date appreciates you fully. Realistically, it may take some time to find your person though. I’m glad that you found my old message comforting.</p>
    I think that ultimately, growing is learning to treat yourself with that love and respect too. What do you think you need right now?

    Thank you for your kind message in regards to communication with my partner. We are not perfect but we are trying. It may surprise you but I have been with my partner for a few years. It has only been this past year where he has begun to open up about his feelings. It is difficult for men, they are conditioned by society not to talk about things. Even more surprising perhaps might be that he used to be a therapist. Not my therapist, to be clear. But he was one a few years before he met me.

    I agree, it is reassuring just to hear that someone didn’t mean to hurt you.

    I’m glad to hear that you feel comfortable letting me know if you are ever hurt.

    You mentioned recently that you felt selfish about the decision to break up.

    I would suggest that when you are feeling calmer that you prove to yourself the ways that you aren’t a selfish person. Write down all of the good things that you do to help and care for others. Doing this on a regular basis is a good way to change internal beliefs about yourself that have been taught to you by other people.

    I hope that you feel better soon. Please be gentle with yourself and take extra special care of yourself when you are feeling down.

    Love and best wishes! ❤️🙏

    #432658
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Seaturtle:

    I feel (and I may be wrong) that this post may be the most useful/ potentially most helpful post that I ever submitted to you. Again, this is my feeling, it may not be your feeling. Please have patience with this (one more) long post. Some of it may be distressing for you to read. As always, read if you choose to read, at your chosen pace, allowing yourself to accept or reject.

    Your very first post, July 29, 2023 (I am adding the boldface feature):  “He is supportive, he encourages me to do what I LOVE.. He is truly a stand up man, he is so kind and deeply cares for those around him… But… all he ever says is… blah blah blah all these super un-original things… I don’t feel seen… N doesn’t really laugh at my jokes…I don’t think we are soulmates… is this all just me running away from the most genuine and loving/caring/kind/PATIENT/ would-do-anything-for-me man ?????????????? I really have been having this entire debate in my head for a straight 6-8 months now and I don’t want to waste my time, I want to move on or commit… I don’t want to make the wrong decision and make him the one that got away. I also don’t want to be ungrateful and expect that there’s something better out there for me, that feels like dangerous territory of having too high of standards that I’m single forever… I am exhausted with this decision and thought the answer would have come to me by now“.

    Oct 13, 2023: “My dad felt unseen and would internally accuse me of not seeing his pain and empathizing with him… My dad to this day still very often misinterprets what I do and who I am and it hurts every time, he thinks I am selfish and is probably why I have fears of being selfish or narcissistic. It is scary when someone tells you that you are coming across a certain way that is unbeknownst to you, it makes me self conscious about how I do come across, which if I let myself overthink this I become awkward in social situations…  I find myself wanting to criticize my partner for similar things my dad criticized me for, like ‘not seeing me.’ A mentality like, if I have to be hyper aware of what I am doing, like responding to messages, cleaning up after myself hyper-vigilantly, making sure YOU are seen, then why shouldn’t you have to be too.. Like he will leave a mess at my apartment, something I would be way too self conscious to do at his house and I have to actively stop myself from resenting that he feels the freedom to do those things and I cannot live with it. As if I wish he had the same anxieties as me… I just wish he could at least empathize my internal torment“.

    Oct 16, 2023: “He feels he is always consoling me and sometimes does not have the patience to do so… So far the only things that makes me feel better are talking about it and feeling he understands why it bothers me, otherwise I also get an impulse to pull away… it has ruined dates before, where I feel unsettled/triggered the whole time and struggle to move on, and become irritated how quickly he moves on… I feel I am falling out of love with him because of how worn out I feel from being triggered at a faster rate than I can heal… so much of our relationship in the last year has been about me and my triggers… we rarely go a whole day without him triggering me in some way… I recently find myself breaking up with him in my head and how I would explain myself, but I do not want to lose him”.

    May 13, 2024 (you are the one adding the boldface feature here): “Despite my best efforts to want to just let go completely, it seems it’s like a boomerang, just as I think it is the farthest it has ever been, it comes shooting back… I fear that he will improve for someone else, and it was me who wasn’t worth it, that I didn’t do enough in the relationship. My desire is to just fully let go! And I feel like I have.. but then this boomerang came back to me the past 3 days or so… I am afraid it is right and that my path won’t ever lead me to another partner… these emotions are uncomfortable and I find myself wanting to escape them with alcohol, weed, tv, even contacting him”.
    <p id=”mntl-sc-block_1-0″ class=”comp mntl-sc-block mntl-sc-block-html”>Very well health. com: “Relationship OCD (ROCD) is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder that involves obsessions, preoccupations, doubts, and compulsive behaviors related to a relationship with another person… This article focuses on ROCD in romantic relationships, exploring the causes, symptoms, and ways of managing ROCD.</p>
    “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder characterized by intrusive and distressing thoughts, impulses (obsessions), and repetitive behaviors (compulsions). ROCD is a form of OCD that is explicitly focused on relationships.

    “Having some degree of worry or doubt in a relationship is typical. Still, for people with relationship OCD, these preoccupations significantly disrupt the relationship and the person’s ability to function as an individual. They constantly analyze themselves, their partner, or their relationship, obsessing over even minor perceived flaws…

    “Obsessive symptoms in ROCD can include: * Extreme fear of making the wrong relationship-related decision (alternating between anxiety over the thought of leaving the relationship and anxiety over being ‘trapped’ in the wrong relationship) * Overwhelming doubts and fears relating to how they feel toward their partner, how they believe their partner feels about them, and whether or not the relationship is ‘right’. * Hyper-focusing on perceived flaws they see in their partner * Fear that they aren’t ‘good enough’ for their partner *…
    <p id=”mntl-sc-block_44-0″ class=”comp mntl-sc-block mntl-sc-block-html”>”People with ROCD may perceive innocuous thoughts and behaviors as ‘signs’ that they don’t really love their partner or that their relationship isn’t viable. These can include:*  Not thinking about their partner all day long * Not completely enjoying a kiss or act of intimacy * Noticing that another person is attractive * Enjoying having time to themselves on occasion * Not always being in the mood for sexual intimacy…</p>
    <p class=”comp mntl-sc-block mntl-sc-block-html”>“Compulsive Behaviors: People with ROCD engage in compulsive behaviors in an attempt to relieve the anxiety caused by their obsessions. Compulsive behaviors common in ROCD include: * Monitoring/checking their feelings * Comparing, such as comparing their partner’s attributes to other potential partners or comparing their relationship to those around them, past relationships, relationships on TV, etc. * Neutralizing, such as picturing themselves and their partner happy together or trying to recall good experiences with their partner * Reassurance-seeking about their partner or relationship by consulting with friends, family, therapists, or even psychic… * Being constantly on a quest for ‘perfect’ love * Creating rules for their partner and questioning the relationship if their partner does not uphold them… Compulsive behaviors may provide temporary relief from obsessive thoughts, but the obsessions always return.</p>
    “The age of onset of ROCD is not known. Still, clinical evidence has shown symptoms often begin to present in early adulthood or when a person is first faced with commitment-related romantic decisions… ROCD symptoms often persist from one relationship to another and can occur when a person is not actively in a relationship (such as having obsessions about past or future relationships)…

    Summary: ROCD is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder in which a person experiences obsessions and compulsions related to their relationships. It can involve symptoms such as constantly questioning if they really want to be with their partner, being hyper-focused on perceived flaws they see in their partner, and seeking reassurance or proof that their relationship is “right.” ROCD can cause distress to the individual experiencing it and strain their relationship. ROCD is typically treated with therapy, particularly CBT or ERP, but medication may be prescribed if necessary to help with symptom relief.”

    I suggested ROCD to you before, but you didn’t consider it back then. Today, I am amazed by how fitting the description of ROCD is with what you shared throughout your many posts (many, many more and longer than what I quoted above), the fit is huge. Psychotherapy that aims to treat ROCD can be a huge help for you.

    Notice this quote from very well health: “ROCD symptoms often persist from one relationship to another and can occur when a person is not actively in a relationship (such as having obsessions about past or future relationships)“- you are not actively in a relationship with N- at least not when you posted last- but ROCD symptoms persist in regard to N while not in a relationship with him. In a future relationship with a different man, symptoms are likely to persist. The way I see it: no man can be perfect enough to make you feel seen and content when it is still your father’s unseeing and disapproving eyes that you see.

    Fear is a very powerful emotion, a very powerful energy in-motion. I no longer have these dreams, but I used to: my mother looking at me, saying nothing, just staring at me with undeniable disapproval and condemnation. That’s all. Interpreting this dream using chakra language: her staring at me with condemnation blinded my third eye, created an earthquake in my crown chakra and hit my heart chakra with a dagger, making me bleed to (almost) death.

    Remember you shared that you were watched like a hawk, and I responded with: you were watched, but you were not seen? This is true to my experience and my dream above: she watched me; she didn’t see me. If she saw me, she would have approved of me, which would have made it possible for her to love me (for how can you love someone you disapprove of?)

    A parent’s disapproving/ condemning look hits a child’s heart like a dagger, an emotional dagger. I don’t have that dream anymore, but when I notice someone sigh, I automatically think it’s a disapproving (of me) sigh. When  I notice an unhappy look, I still think it’s a disapproving look. I still see her in other people. (And so, I don’t really see other people when I see her in them).

    You are not a beginner, Seaturtle, you have insight (3rd eye) and a lot more. I learn from you. And/ but.. when a parent’s legacy is a condemning look/ message, it is very difficult to recover from.

    anita

    #432659
    anita
    Participant

    Re-submitted:

    Dear Seaturtle:

    I feel (and I may be wrong) that this post may be the most useful/ potentially most helpful post that I ever submitted to you. Again, this is my feeling, it may not be your feeling. Please have patience with this (one more) long post. Some of it may be distressing for you to read. As always, read if you choose to read, at your chosen pace, allowing yourself to accept or reject.

    Your very first post, July 29, 2023 (I am adding the boldface feature):  “He is supportive, he encourages me to do what I LOVE.. He is truly a stand up man, he is so kind and deeply cares for those around him… But… all he ever says is… blah blah blah all these super un-original things… I don’t feel seen… N doesn’t really laugh at my jokes…I don’t think we are soulmates… is this all just me running away from the most genuine and loving/caring/kind/PATIENT/ would-do-anything-for-me man ?????????????? I really have been having this entire debate in my head for a straight 6-8 months now and I don’t want to waste my time, I want to move on or commit… I don’t want to make the wrong decision and make him the one that got away. I also don’t want to be ungrateful and expect that there’s something better out there for me, that feels like dangerous territory of having too high of standards that I’m single forever… I am exhausted with this decision and thought the answer would have come to me by now“.

    Oct 13, 2023: “My dad felt unseen and would internally accuse me of not seeing his pain and empathizing with him… My dad to this day still very often misinterprets what I do and who I am and it hurts every time, he thinks I am selfish and is probably why I have fears of being selfish or narcissistic. It is scary when someone tells you that you are coming across a certain way that is unbeknownst to you, it makes me self conscious about how I do come across, which if I let myself overthink this I become awkward in social situations…  I find myself wanting to criticize my partner for similar things my dad criticized me for, like ‘not seeing me.’ A mentality like, if I have to be hyper aware of what I am doing, like responding to messages, cleaning up after myself hyper-vigilantly, making sure YOU are seen, then why shouldn’t you have to be too.. Like he will leave a mess at my apartment, something I would be way too self conscious to do at his house and I have to actively stop myself from resenting that he feels the freedom to do those things and I cannot live with it. As if I wish he had the same anxieties as me… I just wish he could at least empathize my internal torment“.

    Oct 16, 2023: “He feels he is always consoling me and sometimes does not have the patience to do so… So far the only things that makes me feel better are talking about it and feeling he understands why it bothers me, otherwise I also get an impulse to pull away… it has ruined dates before, where I feel unsettled/triggered the whole time and struggle to move on, and become irritated how quickly he moves on… I feel I am falling out of love with him because of how worn out I feel from being triggered at a faster rate than I can heal… so much of our relationship in the last year has been about me and my triggers… we rarely go a whole day without him triggering me in some way… I recently find myself breaking up with him in my head and how I would explain myself, but I do not want to lose him”.

    May 13, 2024 (you are the one adding the boldface feature here): “Despite my best efforts to want to just let go completely, it seems it’s like a boomerang, just as I think it is the farthest it has ever been, it comes shooting back… I fear that he will improve for someone else, and it was me who wasn’t worth it, that I didn’t do enough in the relationship. My desire is to just fully let go! And I feel like I have.. but then this boomerang came back to me the past 3 days or so… I am afraid it is right and that my path won’t ever lead me to another partner… these emotions are uncomfortable and I find myself wanting to escape them with alcohol, weed, tv, even contacting him”.

    Very well health. com: “Relationship OCD (ROCD) is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder that involves obsessions, preoccupations, doubts, and compulsive behaviors related to a relationship with another person… This article focuses on ROCD in romantic relationships, exploring the causes, symptoms, and ways of managing ROCD.

    “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder characterized by intrusive and distressing thoughts, impulses (obsessions), and repetitive behaviors (compulsions). ROCD is a form of OCD that is explicitly focused on relationships.

    “Having some degree of worry or doubt in a relationship is typical. Still, for people with relationship OCD, these preoccupations significantly disrupt the relationship and the person’s ability to function as an individual. They constantly analyze themselves, their partner, or their relationship, obsessing over even minor perceived flaws…

    “Obsessive symptoms in ROCD can include: * Extreme fear of making the wrong relationship-related decision (alternating between anxiety over the thought of leaving the relationship and anxiety over being ‘trapped’ in the wrong relationship) * Overwhelming doubts and fears relating to how they feel toward their partner, how they believe their partner feels about them, and whether or not the relationship is ‘right’. * Hyper-focusing on perceived flaws they see in their partner * Fear that they aren’t ‘good enough’ for their partner …

    ”People with ROCD may perceive innocuous thoughts and behaviors as ‘signs’ that they don’t really love their partner or that their relationship isn’t viable. These can include:*  Not thinking about their partner all day long * Not completely enjoying a kiss or act of intimacy * Noticing that another person is attractive * Enjoying having time to themselves on occasion * Not always being in the mood for sexual intimacy…

    “Compulsive Behaviors: People with ROCD engage in compulsive behaviors in an attempt to relieve the anxiety caused by their obsessions. Compulsive behaviors common in ROCD include: * Monitoring/checking their feelings * Comparing, such as comparing their partner’s attributes to other potential partners or comparing their relationship to those around them, past relationships, relationships on TV, etc. * Neutralizing, such as picturing themselves and their partner happy together or trying to recall good experiences with their partner * Reassurance-seeking about their partner or relationship by consulting with friends, family, therapists, or even psychic… * Being constantly on a quest for ‘perfect’ love * Creating rules for their partner and questioning the relationship if their partner does not uphold them… Compulsive behaviors may provide temporary relief from obsessive thoughts, but the obsessions always return.

    “The age of onset of ROCD is not known. Still, clinical evidence has shown symptoms often begin to present in early adulthood or when a person is first faced with commitment-related romantic decisions… ROCD symptoms often persist from one relationship to another and can occur when a person is not actively in a relationship (such as having obsessions about past or future relationships)…

    Summary: ROCD is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder in which a person experiences obsessions and compulsions related to their relationships. It can involve symptoms such as constantly questioning if they really want to be with their partner, being hyper-focused on perceived flaws they see in their partner, and seeking reassurance or proof that their relationship is “right.” ROCD can cause distress to the individual experiencing it and strain their relationship. ROCD is typically treated with therapy, particularly CBT or ERP, but medication may be prescribed if necessary to help with symptom relief.”

    I suggested ROCD to you before, but you didn’t consider it back then. Today, I am amazed by how fitting the description of ROCD is with what you shared throughout your many posts (many, many more and longer than what I quoted above), the fit is huge. Psychotherapy that aims to treat ROCD can be a huge help for you.

    Notice this quote from very well health: “ROCD symptoms often persist from one relationship to another and can occur when a person is not actively in a relationship (such as having obsessions about past or future relationships)“- you are not actively in a relationship with N- at least not when you posted last- but ROCD symptoms persist in regard to N while not in a relationship with him. In a future relationship with a different man, symptoms are likely to persist. The way I see it: no man can be perfect enough to make you feel seen and content when it is still your father’s unseeing and disapproving eyes that you see.

    Fear is a very powerful emotion, a very powerful energy in-motion. I no longer have these dreams, but I used to: my mother looking at me, saying nothing, just staring at me with undeniable disapproval and condemnation. That’s all. Interpreting this dream using chakra language: her staring at me with condemnation blinded my third eye, created an earthquake in my crown chakra and hit my heart chakra with a dagger, making me bleed to (almost) death.

    Remember you shared that you were watched like a hawk, and I responded with: you were watched, but you were not seen? This is true to my experience and my dream above: she watched me; she didn’t see me. If she saw me, she would have approved of me, which would have made it possible for her to love me (for how can you love someone you disapprove of?)

    A parent’s disapproving/ condemning look hits a child’s heart like a dagger, an emotional dagger. I don’t have that dream anymore, but when I notice someone sigh, I automatically think it’s a disapproving (of me) sigh. When  I notice an unhappy look, I still think it’s a disapproving look. I still see her in other people. (And so, I don’t really see other people when I see her in them).

    You are not a beginner, Seaturtle, you have insight (3rd eye) and a lot more. I learn from you. And/ but.. when a parent’s legacy is a condemning look/ message, it is very difficult to recover from.

    anita

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