My boyfriend and I have been together for 10 months now. Majority of the time, I am happy with him and he tells me the same. But we have a problem that I don't fully understand in my head and some outside, expert perspective would be helpful.
I have some experiences of sexual assault that I haven't let go of... One of them happened almost two years ago. I feel they have almost become apart of my identity. I think about them all the time. Everyday.... Playing the what if?... Analyzing people, their stories, what it said about me... Even though I've seen a few counsellors. It's difficult for me to trust them. Or even trust that what I experienced was even real. Did it actually happen? Or am I just making everything up? After one or two dates I stop seeing them.
My partner is the only person I talk to about these experiences. He's one of the only people I feel close and safe around to do so. But he doesn't like to hearing about some of them because he sees them as sex. Particularly the ones that have to do with my past partner. He tells me they cross a strong boundary he has and would rather I tell him nothing.
Since the first assault, my memory has been horrible. It is incredibly spotty and sometimes completely blank. I'm constantly forgetting really important things, like the things he prefers not to talk about. But because, I'm forgetting so many things, I repeatedly ask him for help remembering. But he sees it as me not caring about his boundaries. Not caring enough to remember at least.
And it is difficult for us to work this out because we have different styles of communication. With him I am open and honest--possibly to the point of being tactless--Connecting words to my feelings comes easy. But he prefers to remain silent. He told me once that being silent has made life easier for him. And it's difficult for him to find the right word.
So when he begin to talk about the complication of his boundaries and my needs, he's feeling a lot pressure to express himself fast. He will usually say very little. Then will almost always hold things in until his drinks a lot and begins to finally tell (or yell at) me what he was thinking and feeling. And why I am a horrible person for asking him so many times. And for repeatedly crossing his boundaries. And he's held back so many things because he felt he was going to get in trouble if he told me.
I don't want to cross his boundaries. But I feel shut down and alone when he says I can't talk about my experiences. At the same time, I wonder, am I putting the onus of my problems on my boyfriend when he isn't in a position to handle them? Is there another method than going to a counsellor/therapist that I could try out?
I want to create a relationship with him where we both feel safe enough to express our feelings without feeling the other will retort; have our boundaries and our history respected; and to support each other as much as possible. But it feels like a big mess right now. I don't want to let him go but sometimes I wonder if I need to take care of myself. Change the status of our relationship to a friendship... At the same time, I love him so much. I haven't felt this close to anyone and always thought I never would. I know what it is like to have my boundaries cross and I don't want to do that to that to my partner. I feel terrible.
Posts: 38 | From: Northwest Coast | Registered: Jan 2010
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Hey WildRice, sorry to hear you are having trouble with your partner and you both feeling safe in talking over things. So I see you saying you tried in person counseling and it was t something that seemed to be working for you, have you thought about support groups? Sometimes it's easier for people to talk when there is other people there to talk with that have had some similar experiences they're working through.
Per your partner I see you saying he sees you talking about abuse as one in the same as sex, have you ever tried giving him some information about the difference between assault and sex and why they are so different? We have more of articles here that may be helpful if you think he would be wiling to read them I'd be happy to link some for you.
So I'm seeing some dynamics here that are not so healthy - like where you say when he wants or needs to say something he holds it in till he drinks then yells them at you. Have you tell are to him about how this makes you feel? Maybe tried sitting down and talking about how to talk to one another when things are going on? It may sound silly but plenty of couples really had to work on talking to one another.
It's also sounding like you feel like you need to talk to him because you don't feel comfortable talking to others but he's not comfortable talking about this with you. So let's talk about some of these coping mechanisms. Have you tried journaling? It can be a good outlet letting you get your feelings out in a safe place but one where you're not relying on someone who is not a counselor to a point where they're not comfortable. It can be drawings writings poems etc. also, if you had questions or wanted to you can always flip back to find what you need or want to know.
Per his boundaries, that's in part going to be something that you need to decide if you can handle. Are you okay with him not wanting you to discuss these past experiences at all? Is it something you think you can keep in with? Or is this something you feel you really need from a partner is to be able to talk to them and have their support as you try to work through your past?
I'm going to hold there on any more and let you read and give you some time to think as well. We're all here for you.
-------------------- "Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon Posts: 3415 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2008
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