fbpx
Menu

Too Late To Start Our Life Together?

HomeForumsRelationshipsToo Late To Start Our Life Together?

New Reply
  • This topic has 16 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 8 months ago by Tee.
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #415680
    Emma
    Participant

    I’m in a very difficult situation that has my head constantly spinning and was hoping to get some advice from anyone as I really don’t know what to do.

    When I was 30, I met a man (K) through work who was my perfect match in every way and who I was very happy to build a life with. I hadn’t had much luck with relationships before meeting him, so was over the moon to finally meet someone who I clicked with. It took a few months until we both opened up and K made it very clear he felt the same way as me. If anything, he was more expressive as I didn’t easily trust people and took a while to let my guard down. When we met, I’d recently ended a relationship and he was finishing up a very messy divorce with his ex wife. So we both had a history of bad relationships and understood each other well.

    K was open about the fact that he had met someone on holiday the previous summer, while still depressed and in a very low place from his divorce, and despite knowing that she (M) and her family were after his money he had agreed to marry her just so that he wouldn’t be alone. They had only spent a few weeks together face-to-face, but M argued she needed a passport in order to get a job over here and therefore they needed to marry a.s.a.p if K wanted to be with her. So a wedding had been planned by her family. I think even back then he knew he was being scammed, but his ex wife had wrecked his self esteem and he was just looking for someone to fill that void.

    So fast forward to us meeting at work and K realised he could actually have real love with someone. So he explained to M that he couldn’t marry her and the wedding would be called off. M had been very open about wanting money prior to this (she had met another colleague we worked with and was very blunt about that) and had wanted to know exactly how much money he made, what investments he had, what house she would get to live in, etc. So K thought she would be a bit annoyed at losing all of that stuff, but would just move on and find another man to leech off. Instead, M threw a fit, told him he was destroying her life, said she had actually been in love with him all along and he was breaking her heart, wrecking things for her family. Her family also started arguing with him and trying to guilt-trip him into marrying her. It was very very clear they were angry about losing the passport and money, but really laid on the guilt and made him feel terrible. M got on a plane and turned up at his house one weekend basically throwing herself at him and begging him not to hurt her, etc. Then went to talk to his mother (who back then had early stage dementia and was very easily swayed) and got her to argue her case too. I was made out to be some homewrecking slut that was after his money (despite being wealthier than him and not sleeping with him at this point) and ruining their perfect relationship and marriage. I had my tyres slashed, trash thrown in my front garden, I was called every name under the sun after M and her relatives somehow got hold of my work number and started calling my office and causing trouble.

    K felt bad about dragging me into all of the drama and said he would just agree to marry M so she could get her passport and leave. He agreed he would pay her a fixed amount after they married to help her family and then they would divorce and both be free to go their own ways as she would have what she wanted. He assumed it would get her off his back and we could then move on and build a life together. I was against the plan, as I figured M would just lie to get married, take the money and try to get even more afterwards. Which is exactly what happened.

    She calmed down and acted really sweet up to the wedding, but wanted to move in with him temporarily so it looked more convincing. She tried to sleep with him a few times, then got annoyed when he rejected her. But otherwise she seemed to be playing along. At this point, I had backed off and said to K we would meet up again once all the drama was over as it was like being in a weird horror film. So for a few months I just focused on work and other things. K was unhappy, but said he understood.

    My ex was still stalking me at the time (he was very controlling and had continued to randomly reach out to me every so often) and knew one of the women we both worked with. He was apparently telling her a bunch of lies about us still being a couple, which I only found out about later on.

    I’m still confused about exactly what happened after this point. But the above colleague was talking to both K and M still and began to get very friendly with M outside of work. People then started to treat me differently at work, acting very cold and dismissive, ignoring emails, leaving me until last in meetings to do reports, putting down all of my suggestions, I was told off for things that I hadn’t done, but in a way that I wasn’t able to argue my case until much later on. Other people took credit for my work, I was constantly left out of things. My guess is that M told this colleague all the same things she had told K’s mum and made me into a homewrecker to the entire office behind my back. And now there was an actual wedding, I looked like the bad guy. At the same time, the colleague was being told by my ex that we were still seeing each other. So it just looked like I was sleeping around.

    I was eventually forced out of my job and at this point I was really depressed as my reputation had been ruined. To make things worse, the colleague got M a job at the same office and due to the timing she ended up getting credit (and the financial reward) for all of my hard work over the previous year. While I was unemployed and isolated from everyone. I had also distanced myself from K, as I’d been made to feel completely worthless and got it into my head that maybe it was all my fault and I deserved to be treated like this and he should be with someone else. I didn’t leave the house for a long time after that and developed PTSD as a result.

    I gave up on K, got therapy, recovered (mostly), found a new job, made new friends, hobbies, etc. I started dating again and met a lot of different men in the hope of finding someone else. But none were even half a match and I eventually gave up on love and refocused my life on work, charity and other things.

    Then two years ago, K contacted me out of the blue apologising for what he’d dragged me into and hoping I’d at least found someone else. I completely fell apart, as I’d done everything I could to forget I ever met him so that I could move on with my life. It took a while, but we eventually agreed to meet for a drink and he told me M had taken all of his money, house, wrecked his life and run off back to her own country to marry another man. She threw herself at him after we stopped talking, tried to turn herself into another version of me (down to hair colour, clothing, hobbies, my job, everything) and for a while it worked. He gave her everything she asked for, and she demanded more and more and slowly turned back into her old self before walking out. They were now divorced and there was no one else in the picture, so we started off just as friends as I wasn’t ready to let my guard down again.

    We’ve been dating for the last year and things should be great. I finally get to be with the love of my life (at least technically), I have good friends around me, a job that I enjoy, I should be happy. But it’s bittersweet as K is no longer the man I fell in love with all those years ago. M treated him really badly (I’ve seen all the text messages, letters, videos at family gatherings of her just insulting and humiliating him in front of everyone) and while I am really sympathetic as I went through similar with my ex, I also don’t know how to fix him again. Or if I even can.

    I haven’t changed who I am, other than a couple more wrinkles and grey hairs. I still want to do all of the things that we planned to do a decade ago. I never got to travel with him, do all that romantic stuff, get engaged, married, build a home and family together. We wanted to build a business, as we worked really well as a team and had perfectly matched skills. We used to spend hours planning things for our future. I still want to do all of those things, as I’ve missed out on that. But M has sucked the life out of K and he isn’t interested in doing much of anything now. We are almost the same age, but he has ‘aged’ about a decade more than me and has stopped taking care of himself. It’s as if he’s there but not quite there. He did all of those things with M and she ruined them, so the novelty has worn off and he just associates everything with stress and drama. I can’t help but feel as if I’m still being punished instead of her. I know he likely has PTSD and I’ve tried encouraging him to see a therapist. I would go with him and do whatever he needs to support him. But he refuses and doesn’t see the point. He feels all of that is behind him and he’s too old now.

    Some people have told me to just leave and find someone else. And sometimes when I’m feeling completely selfish I imagine that. When K seemed like a distant memory, it was easier to distract myself with other things. But now I see him every day it’s a constant reminder of everything that was stolen from me. I logically know I don’t owe K anything when he was the one that chose to waste the best years of his life on a prostitute. He made that decision and losing his house and money was his punishment for that, not mine. But I’d feel terrible just walking away now. And it’s not as if I have other matches lining up to date me anyway. I wasn’t able to find anyone else in the decade after walking away from K. And despite what happened, part of me still loves him. It’s not the same love I had before, as I don’t think I’ll ever be capable of letting myself love anyone like that again. And the physical attraction has gone a bit, as he hasn’t looked after his health/appearance. But I still care about him and the 5% of the time when his old personality/energy comes back I really enjoy being with him and have hope that the man I love is still in there somewhere. I just don’t know if I can cope with only that 5% for the rest of my life or however long we have.

    I don’t know what to do any more. I feel as if I’m trapped in some limbo and don’t have any real options to get to the life and marriage I want.

    #415703
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Emma,

    I am really sorry for what happened to you. It is so unfair and humiliating that a woman of such questionable character (M) managed to guilt-trip K into marrying her, after he’d already met you and seen through her intentions. It is unfortunate that he couldn’t say No to her blackmail and send her away. It is even stranger than he proceeded to stay married to her for 8 years (if I am counting well), until she took all of his money and left the country to marry another man. During the time they were together, she was mistreating him, humiliating him and insulting him in front of everyone.

    All of this is telling me that K allowed to be fooled and abused by M for many years, and that you and your love were not enough to stop him from making self-destructive decisions. There was something in him – a sense of guilt or low self-esteem – which made him work against himself.

    Unfortunately, this self-destructive drive is still in him. Because you – the woman he claims he loves – have forgiven him. And you are willing to leave behind the past and start anew. But he doesn’t want it, he is depressed, he “isn’t interested in doing much of anything “, and he refuses to see a therapist. Again, a self-destructive drive at play…

    You’re right when you say that you’re being punished again (I can’t help but feel as if I’m still being punished instead of her). Now, after she sucked the life out of him (which he allowed) and he probably feels defeated and ruined, you should live with the consequences and accept that he is a ruined man. But why? He could get better if he wanted to. If he really cared about you, he would agree to seek help.

    But something within him doesn’t let him, and he prefers to stay miserable. And he would like your company…. Well, you don’t need to keep him company in his misery. You deserve more. If he isn’t willing to help himself, you don’t have to be a part of it.

    I know it’s hard for you, since he is the man you really loved. But please be wise and don’t let yourself be fooled once again…

    #419959
    Emily
    Participant

    I ended things with K (I explained the above to him, but it didn’t seem to make much difference). I know he had a bad childhood and thinks abuse is normal. He was treated like that by his mother after his dad left, so he only knows how to be a bank account and doormat to women. He grew up with constant fighting and on-off relationship drama so I guess that’s normal to him and if he’s not being used and mistreated it doesn’t feel like ‘love’. He’s aware of that, but he thinks it’s too late to really change anything now. As he sees it, he’s already done everything with both his ex wives and doesn’t see the point in repeating everything just for it to blow up in his face again. He feels the risk it too high, even though he thinks he can trust me not to be like them. I don’t believe he does trust me.

    But I don’t know if leaving him was any better, as now I’m just completely alone again. I tried to get back into dating, but haven’t had a single match let alone a date so that has been pointless and I’m just feeling like I missed the boat on having a life. K still wants to be friends, but it’s too painful. It’s like winning the lottery, then having the ticket stolen from you before you can cash it. Then watching someone else spend most of the money, and years later having the ticket waved in your face as a reminder of everything you lost and can never have. Maybe that’s being immature, but it hurts too much to even look at him now.

    I’m just really tired of life. It feels like I’m too far away from where I need to be and I can’t see any realistic way of getting there. You say I ‘deserve more’ and I agree with that. But I don’t think I’ll ever get what I deserve. At least not without a time machine.

    #419965
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Emily,

    welcome back!

    I think it’s a good decision that you ended things with K, because being in a relationship with a depressed man is hard. You would have been giving and trying, but none of that would have made him change. He would have remained the same bitter, disillusioned man, who believes life is over for him.

    I know he had a bad childhood and thinks abuse is normal. He was treated like that by his mother after his dad left, so he only knows how to be a bank account and doormat to women. He grew up with constant fighting and on-off relationship drama so I guess that’s normal to him and if he’s not being used and mistreated it doesn’t feel like ‘love’. He’s aware of that, but he thinks it’s too late to really change anything now.

    That’s a pity that he believes healing is impossible, and that it’s too late. He is in his early 40s, and it’s not too late for anything. He could build his life from scratch, if he’d want to. But it seems he doesn’t really want to address those wounds. Staying stuck and hopeless might be a defense mechanism against looking into a deeper pain, related to his childhood and his relationship with his mother.

    He feels the risk it too high, even though he thinks he can trust me not to be like them. I don’t believe he does trust me.

    He most probably doesn’t trust you, since he hasn’t healed the old wound of betrayal, inflicted on him first by his own mother. And then by his 2 wives (I don’t know about his 1st wife, but by M definitely).

    But I don’t know if leaving him was any better, as now I’m just completely alone again. I tried to get back into dating, but haven’t had a single match let alone a date so that has been pointless and I’m just feeling like I missed the boat on having a life.

    Well, you’re in your early 40s, so having children might be a bit tricky, although not impossible. But living a fulfilled life with someone you love and they love you back is still very much a possibility! So perhaps try to see where you too, similar to K, are giving up on life and tend to get depressed and pessimistic, even if realistically nothing is lost and you’ve got plenty of options in front of you.

    I’m just really tired of life. It feels like I’m too far away from where I need to be and I can’t see any realistic way of getting there

    This sounds like a wounded part speaking. Believing that things are hopeless, pointless, “too late”, even if you are only 40 years old and in the prime of your power.

    It’s like winning the lottery, then having the ticket stolen from you before you can cash it. Then watching someone else spend most of the money, and years later having the ticket waved in your face as a reminder of everything you lost and can never have

    Have you felt like love and happiness were stolen from you in the past? Have you experienced some form of betrayal, even before meeting K? Because maybe there is a deeper wound there, that you’d need to look at, before you can move on…

     

    #419967
    Emily
    Participant

    “Have you felt like love and happiness were stolen from you in the past?”

    Not stolen, but I’ve never had much luck with men. Even when I was younger, I wasn’t attractive enough to find many men that wanted me. I dated a few guys in my 20s that I wasn’t really into, just because I didn’t have many options and thought maybe they would ‘grow on me’. Which they didn’t. So meeting K felt like I’d found a unicorn, as we were a perfect fit. Since we ended things the first time I’ve had maybe 2 men that were a sort-of match that were only interested in a short term thing (and in hindsight I wouldn’t have been happy staying with them). Now my dating pool has almost completely dried up and even getting dates seems impossible. So I don’t have much hope of finding anyone else now.

    #419968
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Emily,

    I’ve realized that you’ve written before, in 2019 and 2021. What you’ve described back then are very difficult circumstances in your childhood, where you were exposed to quite severe emotional abuse and neglect by your parents, and other people too. I am sorry all of that happened to you 🙁

    You did report in 2021 that you managed to get some therapy: I was put in intensive therapy for CPTSD and general trauma and learned that I was a textbook codependent.

    You understood that you were conditioned to put everyone else’s needs before your own: I was trained from birth to only ever care about what other people wanted and let everyone treat me however they liked just to keep the peace.

    You’ve also learned how to respond to unhealthy situations and how to “reprogram” your brain: I’ve had to learn a lot of new terminology and learn what is/isn’t a normal and healthy response to certain behaviour or situations. I’m a programmer at heart and I view this as reprogramming my brain.

    I would like to ask, if you’d care to answer: how are you now in terms of healing, setting boundaries, respecting yourself and your own needs? How is your life in other areas, apart from love life?

    If I am counting well, you are now 38, so everything is possible, in theory, including motherhood, for which you’ve expressed interest (I still want to do all of the things that we planned to do a decade ago. I never got to travel with him, do all that romantic stuff, get engaged, married, build a home and family together).

    But of course, you’d need to find a suitable man first. And not only that, but you’d need to feel good about yourself before you can actually build a happy life with someone else.

    Maybe this is obvious and I am talking platitudes – but still, would you like to share a bit about your life now, 4 years after you first wrote?

     

    #420131
    Sarah Jeanne Browne
    Participant

    This is not a healthy person. They have no boundaries and chose to be with M rather than get a restraining order or some legal help with this situation. You’re not their “fixer” or their person. They misled you that it would all be okay. You in a way enabled it.

    I would say too much happened to be able to just pick up where you left off. I would burn that bridge and keep on moving.

    #420534
    Emily
    Participant

    I did partly enable it. I accept that I made the choice to reconnect with him. No one forced me to. I’d been on my own for so long that I guess I wanted to believe the universe was giving me a second chance. In hindsight I know that was delusional.

    I’ve made it clear to K that I don’t want to stay friends and have remained NC since, but being alone yet again isn’t any better. I’m much better at setting boundaries than I used to be and willing to walk away. But the main issue is the lack of options I have. If I was given the choice between someone healthy and emotionally open and someone damaged like K, I would take the first man without a second thought. I don’t want to date/marry someone that is emotionally avoidant or who just wants to use me. I preferred those men when I was younger, as I thought that was all I deserved. But that’s changed now. I know I deserve to have a partner that treats me well. If women can be rewarded with love and marriage for treating men like trash, then at the very least I should be rewarded the same for not treating men like that. In an ideal world, I would be treated better than those women, but I appreciate that’s not how it works. But I want to find someone that can at least treat me like an equal partner, be open and honest and loyal and not abusive. But just because I believe I deserve that doesn’t mean other people do, and so far I haven’t met any healthy men that are a match who want to date me. So it feels as if I’m always having to pick the ‘least bad’ option or just stay alone forever. And both are painful.

    I’ve given up on the idea of motherhood, as (even ignoring my age) I have other medical issues that would make it very difficult to naturally have a child. The cost/pain involved just wouldn’t be worth it, even if I had the money and a partner willing to go through that. I’ve made peace with that. I was hoping I could still be a step mum or adopt, but that hasn’t happened either.

    “How is your life in other areas, apart from love life?”

    Not great. I seem to attract emotionally dead people in other areas of my life too. Which makes me think I’m giving off some kind of signal that makes people assume I’m an easy target. I don’t look physically intimidating, so I think people assume they can get away with whatever and I can’t/won’t fight back. I prefer talking to people online, as they tend to assume I’m either a guy and/or much older and talk to me like an equal. In real life it’s very different.

    I met someone fairly similar to K through a different job that also tried hitting on me while his wife was busy asking us to hook her up with other men. And another employee there was intimidated by me and started spreading gossip that led to me being pushed out of that job. So I now do contract work, as I finally got tired of working myself into the floor only for other people to be rewarded for it. It’s nice not having to worry about office politics and to be able to focus on the work itself. I’m used to hard work, so I don’t mind the long hours. And I work on a lot of socially useful projects rather than just making profit for the sake of profit. But it’s bittersweet, as I really enjoyed working in a team and got on well with everyone else there until the gossiping started. So I don’t have much of a social life these days. But the M’s in life always seem to win I’m not willing to play those games to get ahead. I want to be rewarded based on skill and effort rather than whether I’m willing to lie, steal and throw other people under the bus. So for now I think I’ll be working alone indefinitely.

    I’ve cut ties with a lot of the toxic people I grew up with, as they didn’t want me to change and improve my life. So I have less drama to deal with there. The relatives that I still have to speak to are slowly getting the message not to drag me into things or try to blame me for their screw ups. But it’s still their default response a lot of the time, as for years I would just sit and take it. That’s always been my ‘role’, and it’s difficult getting other people to accept that has changed. It feels as if I have to keep a permanent barbed wire fence around me now, as I’m constantly having to defend myself and remind people to treat me with basic respect. Which I guess is better than being the doormat/punchbag I was for the first 30 years of my life. But it gets tiring. I don’t know why it’s so difficult for people. I spend a lot more time alone these days, as I get exhausted being on guard all the time. If I didn’t have young family here, I would just move away. But that isn’t realistic for at least another decade.

    #420551
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Emily,

    I don’t want to date/marry someone that is emotionally avoidant or who just wants to use me. I preferred those men when I was younger, as I thought that was all I deserved. But that’s changed now. I know I deserve to have a partner that treats me well.

    I am glad that you are clear about your own worth and that you wouldn’t settle for a lesser treatment any longer. It’s also good that you refused to be K’s shoulder to cry on and someone to keep him company in his misery. Good for you!

    If women can be rewarded with love and marriage for treating men like trash, then at the very least I should be rewarded the same for not treating men like that. In an ideal world, I would be treated better than those women, but I appreciate that’s not how it works

    You did experience a lot of betrayal, both by men and women, since you were young. M is an epitome of a predator woman, who not only took away the man you loved, but also managed to force you out of your job (I was eventually forced out of my job and at this point I was really depressed as my reputation had been ruined).

    She got a job at the same place where you worked and even received the financial reward that was due to you: To make things worse, the colleague got M a job at the same office and due to the timing she ended up getting credit (and the financial reward) for all of my hard work over the previous year.

    This does sound like a nightmare, Emily, and I cannot even imagine the depths of the betrayal you felt. Because what she did was evil – she basically tried to ruin your life, so you wouldn’t get near her prey (K).

    I want to find someone that can at least treat me like an equal partner, be open and honest and loyal and not abusive. But just because I believe I deserve that doesn’t mean other people do, and so far I haven’t met any healthy men that are a match who want to date me. So it feels as if I’m always having to pick the ‘least bad’ option or just stay alone forever. And both are painful.

    It could be that you harbor the belief that “No one respects me”, or “There are no decent men out there.” Even if you believe that you deserve a good man, you don’t really believe that there are good men out there, men who would actually treat you with respect. This is what I am picking up from your words.

    So perhaps there is a subconscious belief that all men are crooked and they all want to take advantage of you. Do you think this could be the case?

    I seem to attract emotionally dead people in other areas of my life too. Which makes me think I’m giving off some kind of signal that makes people assume I’m an easy target. I don’t look physically intimidating, so I think people assume they can get away with whatever and I can’t/won’t fight back.

    Are you saying that in real life, people treat you with disrespect? Or they try, and then you react strongly (you fight back), and then they are surprised?

    I prefer talking to people online, as they tend to assume I’m either a guy and/or much older and talk to me like an equal. In real life it’s very different.

    Okay, so online they don’t see that you are a woman, and from your words and stance they assume you are a guy, and so you feel they respect you more?

    I’ve cut ties with a lot of the toxic people I grew up with, as they didn’t want me to change and improve my life. So I have less drama to deal with there. The relatives that I still have to speak to are slowly getting the message not to drag me into things or try to blame me for their screw ups. But it’s still their default response a lot of the time, as for years I would just sit and take it. That’s always been my ‘role’, and it’s difficult getting other people to accept that has changed. It feels as if I have to keep a permanent barbed wire fence around me now, as I’m constantly having to defend myself and remind people to treat me with basic respect. Which I guess is better than being the doormat/punchbag I was for the first 30 years of my life. But it gets tiring. I don’t know why it’s so difficult for people. I spend a lot more time alone these days, as I get exhausted being on guard all the time.

    It’s good that you’ve cut ties with the toxic people you grew up with. But it seems there are still relatives who blame you for their mistakes. You say you still have to speak to them (can’t cut ties with them), but it seems you’re having trouble getting the message across to treat you with respect. They try to treat you like a doormat/punchbag (like they used to before), but now, instead of allowing it, you fight it and try to remind them to treat you with respect.

    So you’re in a constant state of stress (fight mode) and you feel like you need to “keep a permanent barbed wire fence around me”, or else they would start treating you like a doormat again, right?

    I am sorry you can’t cut ties with those people too. Is it because of your niece, whom you said you want to be there for and serve as a role model for?

    Because if you constantly need to be on guard and demand basic respect, that is tiring. I could do that only for a limited period of time. So if you cannot cut ties, can you at least reduce it?

    If you have to this going on in your family (basically verbal and emotional abuse), no wonder you feel like going into a combat zone every time you talk to them. And no wonder the belief that “no one respects me” gets reinforced. Perhaps that’s why you feel you need to defend yourself/fight back even in ordinary situations, with normal, non-abusive people. So everybody becomes an enemy and a potential threat, even people who are not abusive?

     

    #420554
    Emily
    Participant

    “It could be that you harbor the belief that “No one respects me”, or “There are no decent men out there.” Even if you believe that you deserve a good man, you don’t really believe that there are good men out there, men who would actually treat you with respect. This is what I am picking up from your words. So perhaps there is a subconscious belief that all men are crooked and they all want to take advantage of you. Do you think this could be the case?”

    No, I have met decent men that respected me, either through work, friends or family. So I know they exist. They are just not single or aren’t interested in a relationship with me. At least so far I haven’t met any that were. Maybe somewhere in the world there is a good guy who will respect me, who is a match, who is single and who wants a relationship. But I haven’t met him yet.

    “Are you saying that in real life, people treat you with disrespect? Or they try, and then you react strongly (you fight back), and then they are surprised?”

    It’s a mix. Most people treat me like a regular person, neither good or bad (which is fine). Others are nice and I get on well with. But I also seem to attract a lot of people (specifically offline – I’ve never had anyone do this online) who will maybe act very nice at first, sometimes overly nice, but then switch and start acting very passive aggressive, blaming me for things they do, spreading rumours (in the case of my last office job), trying to start arguments over really stupid things, taking credit for my work, etc. Other people have noticed too, so it isn’t just my imagination. I actually had one guy apologise and act confused over why he did it. Which makes me wonder if I am doing or looking a certain way that encourages people to treat me like this? With some of the men, I know (because some have told me very blatantly) that they view someone my age being single as being ‘easy’ and therefore take offense if I don’t want to date them. I’m supposed to be flattered if a man wants a hook-up/affair, as if that’s all I’m worth. Others I think see this 5’3 submissive, nerdy looking woman as someone who won’t do anything if they say/do certain things. And when I do retaliate, it shocks them and they are more angry. Like ‘ how dare YOU talk back to me!?’ I still have two ex-colleagues stalking me who I stood up to, as it dented their ego so much. I saw/heard other people argue with them in the past and they were mildly annoyed, but got over it quickly. But they still have a grudge that I called them out on their behaviour.

    “Okay, so online they don’t see that you are a woman, and from your words and stance they assume you are a guy, and so you feel they respect you more?”

    Definitely. There are a lot of things I can say online and never get any heat for (or they even find it funny), but in real life saying the same thing leads to a big argument. I can be myself online, but in real life it causes issues.

    “It’s good that you’ve cut ties with the toxic people you grew up with. But it seems there are still relatives who blame you for their mistakes. You say you still have to speak to them (can’t cut ties with them), but it seems you’re having trouble getting the message across to treat you with respect. They try to treat you like a doormat/punchbag (like they used to before), but now, instead of allowing it, you fight it and try to remind them to treat you with respect. So you’re in a constant state of stress (fight mode) and you feel like you need to “keep a permanent barbed wire fence around me”, or else they would start treating you like a doormat again, right?”

    Yep. I had another big row with my dad last weekend, as he still makes throwaway comments to people blaming me for things that he did. Then gets angry when I call him out for lying. I don’t want to have to do that. But for years people outside of the family had a very warped idea of who I was, as so many things had been lied about or twisted. Then they would act shocked when I didn’t behave a certain way. Or I was constantly having to explain myself and convince people I wasn’t who they thought I was. I’m in constant damage control mode. Except now I do it at source, before the lies have time to spread. But it’s just as tiring.

    “I am sorry you can’t cut ties with those people too. Is it because of your niece, whom you said you want to be there for and serve as a role model for?”

    Yes, I helped to raise her and although she’s not my daughter and has great parents, I’m very protective over her and want to be there if she ever needs anything. Moving away would also mean leaving behind the relatives that I do get on with.

    “Because if you constantly need to be on guard and demand basic respect, that is tiring. I could do that only for a limited period of time. So if you cannot cut ties, can you at least reduce it?”

    Unfortunately, that isn’t possible in the near future.

    “And no wonder the belief that “no one respects me” gets reinforced. Perhaps that’s why you feel you need to defend yourself/fight back even in ordinary situations, with normal, non-abusive people. So everybody becomes an enemy and a potential threat, even people who are not abusive?”

    No, I don’t fight with people unless they lie about me or try to attack me. In public, it’s not as if I’m constantly arguing with people. Maybe I explained that wrong. Most people leave me alone or are at least polite, which is all I ask for. I just get annoyed when, for example, men hit on me then get angry when I say no. Or people make a mistake then tell someone ‘well, it was actually her fault for doing x or not doing y’ as if I will just sit there and take the blame. Or steal from me, spread lies, treat me unfairly (i.e. other people get praised/rewarded for something I did), etc. Unless they do something to warrant me responding, I don’t have a problem. Even if it’s just ‘banter’ (i.e. they are being stupid and clearly insulting me for humour as they know me well), I don’t mind. It’s only when it’s deliberately attacking me or using me for something that I get annoyed.

    #420568
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Emily,

    No, I have met decent men that respected me, either through work, friends or family. So I know they exist. They are just not single or aren’t interested in a relationship with me. At least so far I haven’t met any that were. Maybe somewhere in the world there is a good guy who will respect me, who is a match, who is single and who wants a relationship. But I haven’t met him yet.

    Oh I see. You believe decent men exist, but they don’t want you, or you can’t get to them. Maybe that’s a belief you have? Sorry if I am barking on the wrong tree with his, but I do get the feeling that there is deeper belief involved, which possibly makes things harder for you.

    But what definitely makes things harder is that you need to stay in that “combat zone” and most likely will need to stay for another 10 years at least (Unfortunately, that isn’t possible in the near future…  If I didn’t have young family here, I would just move away. But that isn’t realistic for at least another decade.)

    Yes, I helped to raise her and although she’s not my daughter and has great parents, I’m very protective over her and want to be there if she ever needs anything. Moving away would also mean leaving behind the relatives that I do get on with.

    Oh I see, so she has good parents and you get along well with them, right? But you still want to protect her and be in her vicinity, even if that means being surrounded by other, abusive relatives?

    Sorry for poking, but I am just wondering if you do have to sacrifice yourself – since she actually has people (her parents) to protect her and take good care of her? I mean, you could still keep in touch and be included in parts of her life even if you don’t live in her vicinity.

    Yep. I had another big row with my dad last weekend, as he still makes throwaway comments to people blaming me for things that he did. Then gets angry when I call him out for lying. I don’t want to have to do that.

    Okay, so it’s your father who is still abusive to you, but you’re now trying to stand up for yourself and fight him, rather than just accept whatever he throws at you. But it’s tiring.

    But for years people outside of the family had a very warped idea of who I was, as so many things had been lied about or twisted. Then they would act shocked when I didn’t behave a certain way. Or I was constantly having to explain myself and convince people I wasn’t who they thought I was.

    Right, so your parents were lying about you and created a false image of you, and you then needed to explain to people that you’re not this person they believed you are. May I ask what kind of picture did your parents paint about you?

    And it seems your father still behaves like that – he is still lying to people about you, accusing and blaming you for his own mistakes (he still makes throwaway comments to people blaming me for things that he did.). You’re trying to fight it, you call him out on his lies, but instead of admitting it, he gets angry at you. So he hasn’t changed much, hasn’t he?

    I’m in constant damage control mode. Except now I do it at source, before the lies have time to spread. But it’s just as tiring.

    I can imagine it is, Emily. Because your family (at least your father) is still the same toxic, abusive person. He isn’t going to change. And you’re trying to prove something to him, which is in vain. You’re exposing yourself to his venom, and trying to neutralize it and wash it off from your skin all the time. Which is incredibly tiring. Whereas the only good solution would be to leave the toxic place. To stop exposing yourself to his abuse.

    I hope you can see this. That you don’t have to keep sacrificing yourself and staying in that abusive, toxic environment.

    I will comment on the rest of your post, but I wonder how you feel about what I’ve just said?

     

    #420577
    Emily
    Participant

    “You believe decent men exist, but they don’t want you, or you can’t get to them. Maybe that’s a belief you have? Sorry if I am barking on the wrong tree with his, but I do get the feeling that there is deeper belief involved, which possibly makes things harder for you.”

    It’s not so much a belief, just my experience up to this point. It could change tomorrow (that would be great). Part of me still hopes it does, otherwise I wouldn’t be here now. But so far it hasn’t.

    “Oh I see, so she has good parents and you get along well with them, right? But you still want to protect her and be in her vicinity, even if that means being surrounded by other, abusive relatives? Sorry for poking, but I am just wondering if you do have to sacrifice yourself – since she actually has people (her parents) to protect her and take good care of her? I mean, you could still keep in touch and be included in parts of her life even if you don’t live in her vicinity.”

    She is the only really good thing in my life and the one thing that brings me real happiness. Seeing her gives me motivation to get back up and keep going. My nephews live miles away and I hardly get to see them, and there isn’t much else keeping me going other than sticking around to see her grow up and making sure she has a very different life to the one I had. So it isn’t just that I feel obligated to stay and ‘sacrifice myself’. It would tear me apart to move away and barely see her. I’d have nothing else left. She isn’t my biological daughter, but I helped raise her due to issues my sister had when she was young, and we still have that sort of relationship. So it would be like someone moving away from their child. It would be soul destroying. And as I mentioned, I have a few other relatives here that I get on well with (one who also has a very toxic parent, so sort of understands me). I don’t have much of a social network since cutting ties with a lot of other people. So if I moved away then I’d be going from near isolation to total isolation.

    “Okay, so it’s your father who is still abusive to you, but you’re now trying to stand up for yourself and fight him, rather than just accept whatever he throws at you. But it’s tiring.”

    Not just him, but he does it a lot. My mother tends to just talk over me or randomly forgets I exist. Although I think she has ADHD and is just ‘away with the fairies’ a lot rather than meaning anything malicious by it. She just lacks awareness in general and/or goes along with whatever other people say to keep the peace.

    “Right, so your parents were lying about you and created a false image of you, and you then needed to explain to people that you’re not this person they believed you are. May I ask what kind of picture did your parents paint about you?”

    It was mostly just that everything was somehow my fault. A lot of people in my family have a very fragile ego, can’t accept blame and need to keep a very inflated view of themselves. Some get around that by being avoidant and going AWOL for months/years, some are more histrionic and create drama to redirect the focus, others (like my dad) find someone else to blame if anything goes wrong. I was an easy target, so I was gossiped about and blamed to make him look better. So I seemed like an incompetant, selfish, useless idiot who was failing in life and he was the heroic father who never made a mistake, did everything for everyone and had to put up with me. If I did have any real issues, then it was made out to be deliberate. For example, I struggle with left and right due to dyslexia and took several attempts to pass my driving test. I was already embarrassed about that and stressed due to all the extra money I had to pay out for lessons. But my dad told people the reason I ‘refused’ to get a licence was because I didn’t want to give him and my mother lifts if they went out drinking. He reframed it as me being selfish and making things difficult for him. I also worked hard to save up for university, while also paying them rent towards their second property and paying for medical things I had to get done back then. But someone started a rumour that my parents had paid for me to go to university and certain relatives got angry at me (I didn’t realise this until much later). But  instead of clearing things up and telling people ‘actually no, she worked her ass off before/during uni and and took out loans which she paid back herself’ they ‘didn’t want to get involved in the drama’. So I ended up having to show a relative copies of my bank statements for several years just to stop the lie. It benefited my dad having people think he had supported me rather than the other way around. I’ve given my parents a lot of money over the years, but that would contradict my dad’s ‘hero’ complex. He’s also made some pretty terrible financial decisions in the past, which he says are my fault. I worked in finance and tried to warn him not to make certain investments, but he ignored me and did it anyway. Then later argued that it was my fault he made the investment as I should have stopped him.

    A lot of people that I end up arguing with are people like my dad with very fragile, overblown egos, who want to be the hero and act like they are helping this incompetant little woman (even the women, as in hindsight a lot of them initially tried to have this weird dynamic with me where they acted like a big sister/mother). Then when they realise I’m not that, and they aren’t the hero, it dents their ego. Then they try to lash out either directly and/or by sabotaging me, then get mad when I fight back.

    “And you’re trying to prove something to him, which is in vain. You’re exposing yourself to his venom, and trying to neutralize it and wash it off from your skin all the time. Which is incredibly tiring. Whereas the only good solution would be to leave the toxic place. To stop exposing yourself to his abuse.”

    I’ve given up trying to prove anything to him. I don’t consider him my father any more except in name and made peace with that a long time ago. I couldn’t care less if he genuinely thinks I’m a worthless piece of sh*t, as I don’t value his opinion. My only concern is stopping complete strangers believing his lies about me, as some of those people I do respect. And with other people (not my dad) who treat me this way, it has a very real damaging impact on my life. For example, having my career derailed more than once. I would love to live in a world where gossip doesn’t matter and people are judged on purely on merit. But I’ve realised that isn’t and will never be how the world works, and therefore I can’t just ignore gossip or I’ll keep losing out to toxic people.

    “I hope you can see this. That you don’t have to keep sacrificing yourself and staying in that abusive, toxic environment.”

    I understand what you are saying, and in the past I have moved all over the world in an attempt to get away from this. However, that didn’t fix the problem. I can physically run away from my family, but there are other people just like them in the world. I can’t just avoid dealing with toxic people and run away every time I meet one, that isn’t realistic. I want to know what I’m doing to attract them, how to identify them more quickly (as they always seem really nice at first, which throws me off guard), how to better stand up for myself (or at least try to) without exhaustion, and how to fix the damage they cause to my life.

    #420586
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Emily,

    I understand what you are saying, and in the past I have moved all over the world in an attempt to get away from this. However, that didn’t fix the problem. I can physically run away from my family, but there are other people just like them in the world. I can’t just avoid dealing with toxic people and run away every time I meet one, that isn’t realistic. I want to know what I’m doing to attract them, how to identify them more quickly (as they always seem really nice at first, which throws me off guard), how to better stand up for myself (or at least try to) without exhaustion, and how to fix the damage they cause to my life.

    I hear you, Emily. You don’t need to always run away from toxic people. Sometimes (or a lot of times) you need to stand up for yourself. The problem is that you are meeting these toxic people too frequently – they are defining and draining your life. It’s like you’re constantly in a zombie apocalypse, and that’s not how life should be. I mean, there are always a**holes around us, but not in that magnitude like in your life.

    You ask if you’re sending some signal to attract these toxic people. Well, I don’t think you’re sending a signal but you’ve been brought up around extremely toxic people. Your father was very toxic and was/is actively abusing you. Your mother was more a dissociated type and didn’t do anything to protect you. They also allowed some really bad people to be near you while you were a teenager. You talked about it on your other thread. So you were surrounded by bad people throughout your childhood and youth – starting from your parents to everyone else.

    And this continued in your adulthood too: you kept encountering predators like M who tried to ruin your life and take everything from you. Wherever you came, there was gossip, malintent, and people “willing to lie, steal and throw other people under the bus.” It seems that wherever you come, you encounter people like your father… and the nightmare of your childhood continues…

    I don’t know if this is too triggering, so I don’t want to continue unless you give me a green light. But I am sure that your current experience of being abused and maligned has to do with what you’ve experienced in your childhood. I am not saying you are imagining things – you really are encountering toxic, malicious people. But you start fights with them and try to prove something to them, when you probably shouldn’t, because fighting with a narcissist is a waste of energy:

    A lot of people that I end up arguing with are people like my dad with very fragile, overblown egos, who want to be the hero and act like they are helping this incompetant little woman (even the women, as in hindsight a lot of them initially tried to have this weird dynamic with me where they acted like a big sister/mother). Then when they realise I’m not that, and they aren’t the hero, it dents their ego. Then they try to lash out either directly and/or by sabotaging me, then get mad when I fight back.

    You try to prove to these narcissists that you’re not an incompetent little woman. You try to prove that you’re worthy of respect. It’s like going into a snake pit and pick up the fight. You always lose. You can’t win a fight with a narcissist (or a psychopath). If you step on their foot, they seek revenge, they spread malicious rumours, and some indeed are hell bent on destroying you, like M was.

    So it seems to me that you’re getting into conflict with toxic people – people like your father – and you’re getting exhausted and bitten in that fight. It’s futile, Emily, to fight with snakes. You need to leave the snake pit altogether.

    Because each time you engage and try to fight the narcissist, you give them energy. They love to fight you. So they are winning, you are losing.

    So in a way, yes, you are attracted to toxic people (or rather, you are super upset and triggered by them), you go fight them, and it harms you.

    I think you’d need to develop an immunity to them, so when you see those overblown egos, you just laugh in yourself and keep walking. You don’t stop to “teach them a lesson.” Because they can’t be taught anything. They don’t change.

    Does this make sense?

     

    #420590
    Emily
    Participant

    “You try to prove to these narcissists that you’re not an incompetent little woman. You try to prove that you’re worthy of respect. It’s like going into a snake pit and pick up the fight. You always lose. You can’t win a fight with a narcissist (or a psychopath). If you step on their foot, they seek revenge, they spread malicious rumours, and some indeed are hell bent on destroying you, like M was.”

    I’m fighting back after they attack me, not before. The arguing is when I am having to do damage control. I don’t have an issue with them up to that point, regardless of how much they lie about themselves. If they want to act like they are perfect heros in other areas of their life, that’s fine. It’s only when they try to drag me into it that I get annoyed. I used to just sit there and let them do it, but that has led to my career being wrecked twice and me having to deal with much bigger problems later down the line after lies spread and people reacted based on what they thought was true. I don’t want to have to deal with that sort of fall out any more. I’m too old to keep restarting things from scratch.

    “Because each time you engage and try to fight the narcissist, you give them energy. They love to fight you. So they are winning, you are losing. So in a way, yes, you are attracted to toxic people (or rather, you are super upset and triggered by them), you go fight them, and it harms you.”

    Having things stolen from me or getting harrassed/threatened or having people I respect accuse me of things and avoid me for ages because they’ve been told something that isn’t true is a far worse loss to me. It can take years to recover some things, if at all. My career is still about a decade behind where it would have been, I lost out on a home I was in the middle of buying, I’ve lost I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands in salary. If I’d stood up for myself back then and called them out, yes it would have caused an argument which is stressful in itself, but I was already being treated like crap so I couldn’t have lost any more than I did. I ended up having my life ruined regardless and they just got away with it because I said/did nothing. That’s my biggest regret for the first 30+ years of my life. I let people walk all over me and said nothing, so they got away with it. People like that spend their entire lives cheating, lying, stealing, and people don’t say anything so they win. M has an amazing life now. She walked away with everything she wanted and moved on to the next victim. It’s the difference between someone having to make an effort to rob your house, getting bitten by your huge dog, getting shot in the leg on the way out and only making off with your TV, versus you standing there and just watching while they steal everything you own, laugh in your face and waltz out the front door to rob the next house without any punishment. I got tired of being the helpless victim.

    A lot of the time, these people are so used to getting away with their sh*t that when I do stand up to them they eventually back down. My dad will still yell and try to intimidate me and do his tantrum routine, but he will give up after he pushes me too far as he knows I have a snapping point these days and would happily go to jail if it came to that. He would never hit me now, as he knows I would put him in an early grave and hand myself in. So fighting back does work. Most bullies are cowards when they are faced with a real threat. Obviously I hope it would never come to that, but he acknowledges that threat even if he doesn’t respect anything else. He has a huge ego, but his survival instinct is stronger. But it exhausts me and makes me feel like crap as I’m not used to being angry. I guess my stance now is that if I’m going to lose anyway, I’d rather go down fighting and cause them damage too. Then maybe they will think a bit harder before attacking the next person.

    #420613
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Emily,

    I got tired of being the helpless victim.

    I admire your determination not to bullied and maligned any more. Not to be a helpless victim. Indeed, you were conditioned to be a helpless victim for your entire childhood and youth, and you just took your father’s (and other people’s) abuse without resistance.

    This conditioning made you an easy victim. And so later in life, you allowed M to destroy your life, spread rumors about you, cause you to lose your job, have your car tiers slashed. And while you were suffering from a mental breakdown, she moved in with the guy you loved and even received the financial bonus that belonged to you.

    And it didn’t happen only with M, but with others too. Your own father spread lies about you, forced you to pay off his debt and blamed you that it was your fault he made bad investments. He even lied to others that you’re refusing to pass your driving test because you don’t want to give rides to him and your mother. He accused you of a malicious intent against him, while it was him who was malicious all long!

    He made you seem like a “an incompetant, selfish, useless idiot who was failing in life and he was the heroic father who never made a mistake, did everything for everyone and had to put up with me”.

    So he, your own father, was leading an active smear campaign against his own daughter, with the goal to discredit her and use her for his purposes, while at the same time keeping a false image of being a hero and a good father to the outside world.

    An abuser pretending to be the savior, and the victim made to be an abuser!

    This was horrible, Emily. I hear your pain and outrage, and your determination to never allow it again. And you’re right that you wanted to rectify some things and prove that you’re innocent, specially to people whom you respect and who were fooled by your father’s lies:

    Having things stolen from me or getting harrassed/threatened or having people I respect accuse me of things and avoid me for ages because they’ve been told something that isn’t true is a far worse loss to me.

    So yes, I totally understand your fierce determination to protect yourself against the abuse hurled at you. But I also believe that you need to stop all contact with your father.

    Are you still living with your parents btw? Are you in daily contact?

    Because it’s not the same thing to live in a snake pit, or to walk in the forest and be bitten by a snake. There is a much higher chance of being bitten if you live in a snake pit or communicate with a snake daily.

    I think your goal should be to separate yourself from your father as much as possible, in every aspect: from housing, financing, assets, spending time together, allowing him to participate in your life in any way. You don’t want to ruin your life by fighting him – you need to get out from his sphere of influence. So he cannot bite you any more.

    As for him spreading rumors, you cannot stop that, he’ll always do that. What you should care about it that people you care about and respect know the truth. Not everyone should know the truth. You cannot put it on billboards. Only the people your opinion matters to you – you make sure they know the truth.

    There are many people who believe a narcissists – so called flying monkeys – you can’t convince them anyway. They will rather blame you and believe the narcissist. They will even attack you in the name of the narcissist.

    Some among the flying monkeys might believe you need help because your father told him how incompetent and messed up you are. Maybe they are the people “with very fragile, overblown egos, who want to be the hero and act like they are helping this incompetant little woman (even the women, as in hindsight a lot of them initially tried to have this weird dynamic with me where they acted like a big sister/mother).

    Do they come with “good intentions”, all instructed by your father, and want to meddle in your life and try to “help”? And then you get triggered by their patronizing and you send them away, and that’s how conflict ensues?

    The narcissist usually has a network of useful idiots (flying monkeys) who do his dirty bidding. Some of them are really naive and don’t understand how manipulative the narcissist is. Some are similarly narcissistic and love to put other people down.

    So perhaps what you’re experiencing are the attacks of the people in your father’s orbit?

     

     

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Please log in OR register.