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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Please help me... guilty and trapped

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Author Topic: Please help me... guilty and trapped
she_who_questions
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I'm really sorry if I've been asking essentially the same question over and over again on this message board. Honestly, despite a lot of introspection, I can't tell.

Right now I'm feeling like garbage: guilty, sad, burdened, etc. I know I need to take action in some direction, but am unable to determine what that direction should be. Lately I've been hanging out with my ex-boyfriend. Initially, it was under the assumption that we'd keep our interactions at a friend level (at least until I figured out where things stood between us). However, he's talked about taking the friendship back into relationship territory, and he sometimes gets touchy (i.e. hugs, asking for kisses, etc). All I've really accepted was hugging. After a good deal of consideration, I finally told him definitively: that 1)I didn't feel ready to be in a romantic relationship with him, 2) that both of us didn't seem on solid enough footing, 3) that we're both leaving in a couple of months, 4) that after all the bad stuff that had happened between us in the past I wasn't able to emotionally invest in the same way.

I also don't feel attracted to him in the same way as before. But nonetheless, we continued hanging out after I declared everything to him. The whole being touchy thing has also continued, although I've tried to deter it. I think I'm used to interacting with him in a certain manner, and that I'm probably sending some mixed messages. Either way, he still sees what he wants to in the situation.

It's weird because he seemed to respect my decision upon first hearing it. I used pretty concrete language. I even suggested that my continued presence would be unfair to him (given the situation and lack of reciprocation); that we shouldn't see each other. But he said he didn't want to be out of contact with me again, that talking to me helped him generally, etc. So I kinda went along with it even though I had misgivings.

The last couple of hangouts though, I've come home feeling incredibly guilty. I can see his interest in me, his quiet expectation, his happiness with my company. I can tell he feels bad when I say no to kisses and stuff. I don't know how much of this problem stems from me being confusing (via my speech/actions) and how much is him taking liberties.

My sense is that the current situation is unproductive and unfair to both parties on some level. But at the same time, I can't bring myself to end the friendship/pseudo-relationship altogether. I can't figure out a way to extricate myself from his life again. It's so hard and I feel like a horrible person. I care about him so much; I will always love him in some capacity.

Part of my inability to act comes from his dependence on me. He has experienced two suicides in his family over the past five years (his father and his uncle). He developed a problem with alcohol which got worse after we broke up. During our hiatus, he had to take a leave of absence from school. He tells me he was drinking approx 12 beers a night during that period. All during this time, we were supposed to be "no-contact" but he would drunk text me every once in a while.

Now that I'm back in his life, he's consciously cut back on alcohol (he originally limited himself to 2 drinks per day). He's also been keeping up at school, trying to quit smoking etc. He says he's much happier overall when I'm around.

I know that he doesn't have many close friends, and that he's rather lonely in general. I feel pity for him, and I also feel overly responsible for his well-being.

He really is a kind, goodhearted person, and he deserves so much from life. It brings me to tears writing that, actually. But he is still very troubled to this day, and it's taking a toll on me again. (In the past there was some manipulation on his part...our dynamic got to be somewhat unhealthy).

So I'm honestly trying to do what's best for both of us in this situation. I care so much but feel immobilized. If I disappear completely, I know he will be heartbroken and that all hell might break loose (in his life anyway). But if I stay, I worry that I'd be enabling some of his boundary-busting habits and jeopardizing my peace of mind. I feel unbelievably guilty. I've even been keeping my renewed "friendship" with him a secret from my parents--because I know they'd be concerned and look down on my decision. In fact, I already know it's unwise. But god, I don't know how to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Can I ask if you have drawn a hard line with things like kisses and hugging? If so, am I getting that despote you drawing those lines, he keeps asking you to rescind them or keeps dismissing them?

Can I also ask you this: let's set what he wants and needs aside for a minute. What kind, if any, of relationship with this person do you think would be most healthy and most right for you?

Also, were you ever able to do what I suggested in my last reply to you here: http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/ultimatebb.php?/ubb/get_topic/f/3/t/010845/p/1.html#000000

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Saffron Raymie
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I hear you wanting to be very gentle with this person, and wanting to do the kindest possible thing for both your wellbeing.

However, in these kinds of dependent situations, it might be kindest - for both of you - to end this relationship, even though you are on friendship terms.

When we become overly dependent on something - like alcohol, or someone - like a friend, it rarely helps us address our issues with dependency, if you know what I mean?

I know you want to be kind to him, and take care of him, but letting him be dependent on you might actually not be the best course of action for him, as well as taking a serious tole on your own wellbeing.

It sounds like you and he have have some emotionally abusive dynamics in your old relationship. However, as painful as it is to hear, those dynamics rarely go away when the relationship has changed into a friendship.

I do not think you are being confusing or giving mixed signals. I know how easy it is to feel like you are, but you have been as crystal clear as it is possible to be with him.

This is what you have said to him:

"1)I didn't feel ready to be in a romantic relationship with him, 2) that both of us didn't seem on solid enough footing, 3) that we're both leaving in a couple of months, 4) that after all the bad stuff that had happened between us in the past I wasn't able to emotionally invest in the same way."

To me, that's very clear, and I don't think you hanging out with him and accepting hugs from him in any way undoes what you've said to him. We can hug people and not want a relationship. Asking for kisses, when a person has explicitly told us that they do not want a relationship is seriously crossing a boundary.

Healing from a relationship ending sometimes means realising and addressing that we have become dependent, and need to do some work on that.

Even if you and he were still in a relationship, you still cannot be responsible for him, and it's extremely unhealthy of him to put that on you. Per his drinking, you aren't responsible for that either; you can't be.

I know it's so difficult to hear, but it sounds like you are still in an abusive relationship with this person, without healthy boundaries, and a dependent element to it.

I hear you saying he's a good person, for sure, he probably is in a lot of ways; but this unheathy set up may be deeply harming you both, even if he says he feels better. Drinking will also make him feel better; but it's probably not a good idea, right?

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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Saffron Raymie
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(Oops, Heather was more speedy than me! [Smile] )

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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she_who_questions
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Thank you both! In answer to your question Heather, I did institute a serious separation from him which lasted about a year. I didn't see him during that entire time, didn't reach out through phone/text, nothing. I kept re-emphasizing my boundaries but sometimes I would still get messages from him.

Before I cut contact, I did send a final message which had some mental health resources attached to it.

I have been keeping a hard line about things like kissing and anything more advanced than that. I thought hugging goodbye would be okay because friends do that. But yea, he does keep pushing the envelope a bit. Our current dynamic is a bit flirtatious but I don't think it would drive most people to do what he is doing. I dunno, I still do feel responsible no matter what.

As far as the type of relationship I want with him realistically.... it's probably little to no contact again. I thought we might be able to be friends, having done our own introspection and healing post-breakup. It seems reasonable, but I guess not. I do like having someone else to spend time with, but his thinking style and manner of treating me counter-weigh that.

Do you think it would be fair of me to tell him my conclusions through email? That seems cowardly, but every time I try to do it in person I fail or he convinces me otherwise. How should I word it? Do you think he would benefit from knowing my rationale? Or should I just omit that given his in-one-ear-and-out-the-other tendencies? Thanks again. You have no idea how much this means to me

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Heather
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So, sounds like he still isn't respecting your boundaries. That he didn't when you asked not to have contact, and he isn't around some of the physical stuff. What I see there isn't about what friends do or don't do, but a pattern of your boundaries being dismissed. Can you recognize that?

I think however you feel best voicing these things to him is okay, and given how things have gone with in-person contact, I can totally understand why you'd feel most comfortable communicating via email.

How about this: want to share what you'd write from your gut and then we can look at it together before you send it? If so, happy to do that with you.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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she_who_questions
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I do recognize the pattern of boundaries being crossed--I actually brought it up to him and we had a prolonged discussion. He basically told me that he didn't think I meant what I said. He also said that he was testing me for my own benefit, wanting me to stand up for myself or slap him or something. I told him it was messed up to transgress someone's boundaries to such an extent that they resort to physical retaliation....to search for the core boundary or whatever.

I suggested that he transgressed boundaries to determine the conditionality of his relationships with other people...how likely they are to stick around, etc. He said there might be some truth to that.

I would really appreciate if you'd read over my email once I finish it. Thanks for the offer. I'll try to write it all down by tonight. The idea still makes me sad though, because (aside from the boundary business), he's mostly good to hang around with. And I really don't think he sees what he's doing. I'm going to miss that companionship in some senses, even though it's not altogether healthy or beneficial. Bleh I guess I'd better be smart about it

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she_who_questions
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Another thing I feel bad about is this: it does feel like we're in a romantic relationship again. We go out to eat and watch movies and hang out. And there's some flirtation. He told me last night, "we're basically seeing each other." And I guess he's right, except for the physical stuff. It's terrible that I've played a part in this misconception, that I can't effectively broadcast what is right or what I feel. All the more reason to cut ties right?
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Heather
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You're right: saying you aren't respecting someone's boundaries to "test" if they are bonafide isn't an okay thing to do. Mind, that may even be some BS o his part regardless, but if it isn't, not okay in my book.

With your last post, it's sounding to me like in voicing what he did he is probably either a) reflecting what he feels, which tells you that he can't have the kind of relationship you have been without seeing it as romantic, information which I think is valuable to you in your choices around this or b) thinking if he says that's what kind of relationship you two are in and says that, he makes it so.

But I agree, all of this stuff -- and the fact that his behavior doesn't seem to have changed at all in the last year (meaning he also likely didn't seek out any of the help for himself you directed him to) -- seems to make clear that a healthy relationship of any kind with this person right now or any time soon is probably not a realistic possibility.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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she_who_questions
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This is the email I've come up with. Please let me know what you think. It was pretty difficult to write; trying to solidify my convictions still. Anyway, here goes:

I feel weird writing you another email, but I find it really hard to articulate what I mean in person. I really apologize for the sterility of this message, but I figure it's best to be honest in whatever way possible. The last couple of weeks we've been hanging out, I've felt guilty and worried on the drive home. Initially I tried to ignore the feeling because I enjoyed being around you; didn't want to look into things too thoroughly or question them. But now I'm pretty sure that us continuing to hang out isn't a good idea. Honestly, it seems unfair and detrimental to both parties.

You mentioned the other night that we were "basically seeing each other," except without the physical element. It certainly does look that way, but my rationale about not getting back into a romantic relationship hasn't changed. At the same time, I know you want there to be more between us than friendship. There's this expectation that I can't rightly fulfill, and it leaves me feeling awful. Also, because my actions toward you aren't matching my thoughts/wishes, it leads me to think that I should bow out. I know I've been misleading in some senses, and I'm really sorry for it.

The other thing that's occurred to me is this--you tend to see what you can get away with as far as boundaries are concerned. You don't generally take me at my word, and I'm bad about holding the line. Which, again, leads me to think that our dynamic is still kind of unhealthy.

I've also heard you say some worrisome things lately, especially about your own self worth. It's so hard to hear, and I think you've got stuff to face in your own life/mind. I feel kind of like a buffer between you and your problems. The situation takes a toll on me, and I don't think I'm able to handle it. Even more so, I think there are elements of codependency within our relationship which haven't been wholly dealt with (both individually and separately).

I guess that's all I have to say except that I'm truly sorry. Looking back, it was probably unwise for me to get involved in your life again and mix things up. But nonetheless, I've had a lot of fun with you these past couple weeks...good conversations, general rapport, etc. Saying goodbye again is really difficult. I care about you so much, and I'm honestly trying to do what's best for both of us. I'll miss you a lot and I hope that one day things can change. If you want to correspond by email or on google chat from time to time, I'm okay with that. Again, I'm sorry I couldn't say all of this in person.

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Heather
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On the whole, this looks really good for me. The places I'd suggest considering some changes are around making sure your message is strong and clear, and also being sure you're closing doors with this, not giving him places he might see them as still open.

So, were it me, I'd change it like this:

"I am writing and sending this via email, because I feel it is the way I can best express my thoughts and feelings and have them heard.

I do not feel good about hanging out anymore and I don't think it's best for either of us. I have put a good deal of thought into this, and I know it is not good for me.

You mentioned the other night that we were "basically seeing each other," except without the physical element. I can see how you could see it that way, but my rationale about not getting back into a romantic relationship hasn't changed. I do not want to be in any kind of romantic relationship with you or one you decide is romantic. I know you want there to be more between us than friendship. There's this expectation that I can't rightly fulfill, and it leaves me feeling awful. Also, because you feel my actions toward you aren't matching my thoughts/wishes, it gives me all the more reason to bow out. I know you feel I've been misleading in some senses. If I earnestly have, I am sorry for that.

The other thing that's occurred to me is this--you tend to see what you can get away with as far as boundaries are concerned. You don't generally take me at my word and don't respect me when I try to hold my lines, which makes me feel less able to hold them as I'd like to. This is one more thing that leads me to think that our dynamic is still unhealthy.

I've also heard you say some worrisome things lately, especially about your own self worth. It's so hard to hear, and I think you've got stuff to face and work out in your own life/mind. I feel kind of like a buffer between you and your problems: I feel I am enabling you. The situation also takes a toll on me, and I feel unable to handle it. I think there are elements of codependency within our relationship which haven't been wholly dealt with (both individually and separately), and which do not appear to be changing any time soon.

I guess that's all I have to say except that I'm sorry for agreeing to explore a relationship of any kind with you again. Looking back, it was unwise for me to get involved with you again. I've had some fun with you these past couple weeks, some good conversations, general rapport, etc. But that doesn't take care of the downsides here, which far outweigh the good stuff. Saying goodbye again is difficult, but I need to do it and I need you to accept it. I care about you, and I need to do what I think is best for both of us. Again, I'm sorry I couldn't say all of this in person. I wish you the very best."

See the difference?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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she_who_questions
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Thanks so much Heather. My plan is to send him the email tonight; I will let you know how it goes or if there is any backlash.
Posts: 120 | From: Florida | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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