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Author Topic: Bizarre flashbacks and a break-up
JB
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...sounds like the title to a musical. Or a punk rock song. Anyway, I have two separate issues that I kind of wanted to talk about, but I'm just gonna put them in the same post to prevent taking up space.

So number one: My parents were divorced when I was about 2 or 3...I don't remember anything about the divorce, or the time they spent together/we spent together. When I was about 10 or so, my parents got back together briefly. I was under the impression they were going to get married and (if I remember correctly, which I hope I do) my mother mentioned something about them getting remarried. I was pretty happy about that, but it's hard to remember my emotions exactly. I remember we spent Christmases together, went on a trip as a family (I have an older brother, so there's four of us)...and I remember sitting in my kitchen, telling my best friend that my parents were going to get remarried. I was happy, yeah...a little bit like "Wow! Unexpected!" but ultimately happy.

However, the separated/broke up again when I was in 7th grade. When I was in 8th grade, my dad started seeing this woman. She is very very nice and they love each other very very much and I had always been, and still am, very supportive of their relationship. She is a wonderful person to have in my life. I'm 17 now, so they've been dating for 3 or 4 years, and are planning on getting married soon.

Recently though, I've been lapsing into a terrible sadness/tears whenever the word "divorce" is mentioned (it's like the Pavlov effect). The divorce my mom and dad went through is all of a sudden very painful to me...I get upset fairly frequently, and while I know I never got a chance to deal with it because I was very young at the time, I feel guilty and embarrassed, like I should have dealt with it.

I talk to my parents about it, and they are receptive. They talk to me, try to explain things to me, and offer their apologies and sympathy. But it's hard you know? Because while they are supportive, they are also part of the issue. I guess I'm writing because I need a 3rd party perspective.

I feel a lot of resentment, something I have not voiced to them because I would never want to guilt trip them. I know they are both happier this way, and that them being together would not necessarily mean we were a happy family. But sometimes...I don't feel like a family. I feel disjointed and confused, like I have these two separate continents I bounce between...continents because they feel so big to me.

I'm angry that they get a "second chance" while I am stuck with this emotional baggage, which isn't fair. By no means did they sail through their divorce-it was a very painful time for them. But I never experienced/saw their pain, I never got to understand it in the rawest sense. And I'm angry that I am stuck with this sadness.

I'm angry because I don't think they tried hard enough, which is also unfair. But I never saw it, I have no proof. And yet who am I to judge how hard people try in a relationship? But my dad was explaining how he wants to be sure about his new girlfriend before they marry because, looking back on his relationship with my mother, he was fairly immature and had things he knew he could improve upon. And I am angry that he got to make his "mistake" and here I am, feeling like I am carrying some of the burden of this "mistake" 15 years too late.

My brother is 5 years older than me. We would touch upon the subject of our parents' divorce/my dad's new girlfriend, but we never had a serious discussion about it. My brother does not do serious discussions...I don't think he's capable, I just don't think he can. I feel like, while I know he is carrying some of the "burden" of the divorce, he is not carrying as much as me. I know that sounds like a competition, but that's not how I mean it. Here's an example:

My dad got his own house a couple years ago, so my brother and I would switch off during the week between going to my mom's for dinner and then going to my dad's. But sometimes, my brother would get grouchy and moody and talk about how he didn't want to go to dad's and why should he go to dad's and he would resist it. And I felt like "Well, he's the reluctant one so I have to pull through". So I would house hop with contentment, and usually I was ok with it, but sometimes I didn't want to...but well...that wasn't my "role", you know? I was the willing one.

I worried/worry about my parents. I want to make them happy. They tell me not to worry about balancing "house time", just to show them affection. It's hard for me to believe them, though and I don't know why. So I do worry, because I want to make them happy.

And now my brother is gone. He's in the military is doing a tour of duty over in Iraq. And I feel like I'm all alone carrying this "burden" by myself.

I guess I'm asking: why? Why are these emotions coming about now? And why can't I trust my parents when they say "you don't need to take care of us"? And what if I can't be supportive of my dad's marriage? What if I crack? What if I have no one to turn to after that because it's too late, it's been cemented, and my brother certainly won't want to talk about it? What if I can't be there for my dad at his time of happiness?

I have some ideas behind it: My brother's absence, combined with my dad's recent frequent business travel is making me stressed, maybe? Also, I'm going to be a senior: one more year, and then I'm gone, and then who will be there to make them happy?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Number two: This is a little lighter...but I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 2+ years. Our relationship, while good, was always a little tumultuous. We're unsure of what we want, and a little young I think, and the relationship was getting bad. While I think he's a great guy, I can't be with him now...but who knows what the future will bring.

Anyway, I was talking with my friend about it (she's a mutual friend of me and my ex-boyfriend) and she said he seems to be doing alright, moving on with it. And on the one hand, I am so glad-I stumbled upon some facebook surveys that were full of allusions to our break-up and how depressed he was, and I felt very guilty and sad...I didn't want him to be miserable.

But this dark little voice inside of me WANTS him to be sad. And it's so messed up, but I guess I just feel: he hurt me, and I want to be important enough to miss.

And he HAS missed me, so it's not like I was just this "thing" in his life. And I would never ACTUALLY want him to be sad for the rest of his life, but this little voice just keeps on popping up. I know that if he were actually in a state of terrible depression, I would feel awful. I want him to be happy and move on because he's a really great guy.

I don't know where it's coming from...would you guys mind shedding some light on it, if at all possible?

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this...I know it's incredibly long. I appreciate it very much.

Posts: 186 | From: Richmond, VA | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TheTasteOfPurple
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JB, before I say anything else I want to commend you; you sound like a very strong, self-aware person.

On your first question:
I noticed that you talk a lot about wanting to make your parents happy. Please do keep in mind that no one's happiness is your responsibility except your own. From what you've said about them in your post, your parents sound like they will love you and be proud of you no matter what you decide to do, but especially if the decisions you're making contribute to YOUR life happiness. In other words, they'll probably be happier with you doing things that make you happy than they would be with you doing things just to please them, if those things are feeling like a burden to you.

It may also be worth it to look into professional counseling. Finding a therapist you feel really comfortable with can be a challenge, but when you do find one it's so worth it.

On your second question:
Ah, the little voice. I know it well. I don't think it's very uncommon to have those feelings after a difficult break-up. Having that demon on your shoulder doesn't make you a bad person; it's not our thoughts that define us but the way we choose to act on them. You're not acting on that little voice, you're operating on the larger part of you that wants him to be happy.

As to why it's there, I can give you a short version of my experience, but your mileage may vary. I had a breakup where my post-breakup feelings were very similar to the way you've described yours ("he's a great guy and I want him to be happy, but part of me is glad he's miserable.") For me, although I didn't realize it at the time, that little voice meant I needed to examine the relationship and how it had impacted me more closely; it took me two years to fully acknowledge that it was an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship. So, when I have a little feeling that's just kind of eating away at me, I take it as a sign that there's something I'm not telling myself.

I hope that helped, and good luck with all of this. I'll be thinking of you.

--------------------
Julia

The highest result of education is tolerance. -Helen Keller

Posts: 50 | From: Halfway down the California coast | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JB
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Thank you so much for your support and insight. It has helped me greatly. I think I may look into some professional counseling, especially if it will ease things for the upcoming school year...the last thing I need is stress upon stress.

And I'm glad to know I' not the only one with that snarky little voice. I'll keep it under wraps, of course, but take some time to examine the relationship...perhaps there is some flaw I am overlooking.

Thanks again. I appreciate it so much.

Posts: 186 | From: Richmond, VA | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JB
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So as for the break-up deal, I think I came to some conclusions, and I'd like to write them out...mostly for my sake, but also to see if it makes sense.

By no means was I in an abusive relationship, but I did walk away with some hurt. It was not done maliciously, though...it was just a result of naivety, of youth, of not knowing enough.

I felt very insecure in the relationship. Part of it was me,and it's something I need to work on...I need to learn to trust, or articulate what I need. But I feel like this insecurity...this flaw...was overlooked, while I spent careful time shifting to compensate/tolerate/accept his flaws.

I was always scared to ask for reassurance, and I feel a certain bitterness, something that's proving to be hard to shake. I feel like I put more effort into the relationship, that I was always working on it, while he generally avoided those serious kinds of conversations...that is, unless we were broken up, in which case, he was willing-no, desperate-to have this conversation. And he would be attentive and loving and then it would fade...and the cycle would start again.

I dunno...that's kind of a lot of babbling...but does it make sense?

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TheTasteOfPurple
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I'm glad you're willing to look into professional counseling. Hope you find one who works out for you.

Your "babbling" totally make sense. Actually, it sounds like practically an identical twin of one of my previous romances; I had so much trouble articulating what I needed that things generally ended up all about him (he did have a tendency to take things really personally, so if I was unhappy about something he'd done I never felt like I could bring it up with him because he'd get so offended that I wouldn't be able to continue having any kind of discussion with him.)

If somebody isn't willing to invest time into having serious discussions about what each person needs out of a romantic or sexual relationship, then they're definitely a. not healthy for anyone else to have that kind of relationship with with and b. not ready to be in that kind of relationship themselves.

I feel like I really learned some valuable lessons about what I didn't want in a partner and what didn't work well in a relationship, but I'm still having trouble getting past the blame stage to just accepting what happened and what I learned from it; does any of that sound true for you?

--------------------
Julia

The highest result of education is tolerance. -Helen Keller

Posts: 50 | From: Halfway down the California coast | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JB
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That echos how I feel EXACTLY! By no means was he malicious, he would just take things VERY personally, and when I WOULD tell him, I'd half expect him to react the OPPOSITE way of how I wanted him to act. Towards the end of our relationship, the whole process was a touch more successful, but not effective enough to feel like it was filling my needs.

I'm beginning to let go a little bit, but it's hard not to feel loathing. Your story sounds so similar to mine...spooky! But it has helped LOADS.

Posts: 186 | From: Richmond, VA | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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