T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 95405
posted 03-28-2012 05:36 AM
I was in a mutually abusive relationship for 6 years (with two breakup/reconciliations). We lived together for 2 years and spent every day together for the rest of the the years, pretty much. Our relationship went through different stages of abuse - physical for about two years, the rest of the time it was emotionally and verbally abusive. ...I suppose even now I get confused because I was also abusive in the relationship, but I feel like the abuse was "started" by him, or maybe introduced by him to the relationship as something acceptable. So sometimes I feel guilty for it or like I brought it on myself by partaking in it.
Anyway - we broke up for the third time last November - he left, then months later finally moved his things out. However, it was not a clean break and he is still trying to get back together with me now. For the first few weeks of the break up I was very set on us not speaking, but he continued to call and text message me until I "gave in" to him and allowed him to talk to me. Over the past months I have been telling him I don't want to be with him, but sometimes I feel almost broken down with the way he constantly messages and calls me so I have made bad decisions by speaking to him, seeing him, etc. Although I feel like overall I've made it clear I don't want us to be together, I know that I probably should have just ignored him from the start. The thing is though, I feel absolutely miserable and guilty about hurting him in any way, and when I don't want us to speak he becomes emotionally manipulative and tries to make me feel bad about it (which works). So there is a horrible cycle of us not speaking, him constantly messaging or calling me, me ignoring him, then him getting nasty and manipulative and me feeling guilty/sorry for him and allowing him to speak to me (although often it is just to reiterate I don't want us together, but I've said it so many times now). I'm at a place where I'm trying very hard to ignore his messaging and calling. I really don't want us to end up back together on any level because I truly don't believe the abusive dynamic can change between us (he is also very unhappy in his own life and I don't believe he has the motivation to change). I have a fantastic support in my family and friends, HOWEVER at this point they are all sick to death of hearing me talk about this -- some think I'm enjoying the drama of it, some think I'm being stupid and ridiculous. I can understand why, but it sucks for me that I've run out of people to talk to about this. I'm also starting to fall behind in other areas of my life because I feel so bad on a day-to-day basis (I live alone, work a lot and am in law school). I've considered counselling but I'm not ready to open up to someone I'm unfamiliar with in person yet. I just feel like I need some guidance from anyone who has been through something similar... How not to feel bad for not speaking to him, how to handle the grief of losing someone I felt so close to, etc. I find the regular break up stuff hard enough, but have this added dynamic of feeling responsible for the whole thing (even though he was the one who made the ultimate decision for us to break up) and also having to deal with the confusing feelings of coming out of an abusive situation. Has anyone experienced anything like this or could anyone offer some advice or support?
Member # 3
posted 03-28-2012 01:47 PM
Well, for starters I'd say that if you are, in fact, responsible for ending an unhealthy relationship that is a very good thing. In other words, that's a GOOD thing to be responsible for. Keeping something unhealthy going isn't.
I also think that rather than talking about how not to feel bad about holding your limits with contact, and not getting back into this, it might be more useful to talk about how to do all that even if you DO feel bad. After all, you might -- we often will with any breakup, even from unhealthy relationships. But. We can still have hard feelings and make our best choices, and making choices that aren't good for us just to avoid feeling badly isn't ever sound, you know? Have you also considered just taking a step with counseling, rather than holding off? What do you think you'd need to be ready for that you don't have now?
Member # 95405
posted 03-28-2012 03:47 PM
The counselling thing - I feel like I'm not going to be 100% open with it. I actually have the referral to go at a subsidised price (this is also a problem -- even at a discounted rate it's expensive), I just don't feel open to speaking to someone face to face. You are right about not avoiding feelings. The thing I usually try to think of is that the bad feelings I get when I don't speak to him will pass eventually (and they do) whereas us being together is usually bad most of the time and has no foreseeable "end". But I find it hard to bring this to my mind all the time, and as I said I have a big issue of hurting someone I care about (even though I guess that's what happens in a breakup). And even when I am mindful/rational, it seems to be not working all the time because even when I feel strong about it I have a huge problem resisting the urge to respond to him or answer his calls if he constantly sends me messages telling me I'm going to regret this, that I won't find anyone who loves me as much as he does, that I'm hurting him and he has no one, etc.
Member # 3
posted 03-28-2012 03:51 PM
With the counseling, are you thinking you need to be 100% open right from the start? Or do you mean you don't think you'd even feel ready to open up gradually? Again, if the latter is so, what do you think you need to be able to do that?
In terms of your second paragraph, one thing I'd say is that people get hurt in relationships. We do. To risk the good stuff, we have to risk hurt, and people get hurt even when no one is aiming to hurt the other. But motive matters: by setting limits and cutting contact, what you're aiming to do isn't hurt him, right? Instead you're aiming to not have EITHER of you be in something abusive or unhealthy, and it's clear the only way that's going to happen is if you don't interact and move on. Would you say I have that right? Also, can I ask why you never blocked his messages and ability to contact you? Could you get a friend or family member to help you develop the willpower to do that and stick to it?
Member # 95405
posted 03-28-2012 05:09 PM
Counselling - I feel like I wouldn't be able to open up gradually. I feel like I'd probably feel fraudulent and not want to go back if I wasn't 100% open from the start.
Yes, I think you're definitely right about what my motive is there - I actually do think both of us will be better off without the relationship. I'm not trying to hurt him and I feel like the prolonged contact has just hurt us both so much more than cutting contact would have. My problem is that I wish I had some kind of positive knowledge that he knows I'm not trying to hurt him and in fact I'm trying to do the best thing for both of us.. He just seems so indignant about it (if he's in an angry stage rather than upset). I suppose I find myself in a trap of continually explaining to him why it's bad for us to be together and how I'm not trying to hurt him. But at the moment it's been a day since he's contacted me (to which I didn't respond), so I feel slightly better that he hasn't bombarded me with abusive/manipulative messages today. My carrier won't block the number (and to my knowledge, no carriers in Australia do block individual phone numbers). I have the option of changing my phone number, but I would prefer not to do this because of the effort/cost.
Member # 3
posted 03-28-2012 05:22 PM
Well, one thing is that counseling and therapy really isn't about people walking right in with a counselor they have no established relationship with and putting everything on the table. Like any relationship, trust needs to be established, and things get built over time. So, even if you DID want to put all your stuff right on the table from appointment one, a) that'd be awfully hard for anyone to do in an hour, and 2) that's not usually how a counselor is going to want to work, for a host of sound reasons.
Building trust and establishing a relationships and gradually disclosing isn't anyone being fraudulent: it's about building relationships in a healthy way, especially intimate ones. Catch my drift? You know, abusive people probably are NOT going to know you're not trying to hurt them, and on top of that, just not doing what they want, period, is often going to be something the consider to be about hurting them because control and power is so important to them. So, I think you need to just work on letting go of expectations of what he's going to think abut this: I think you have every evidence so far there's not going to be a way to end things he's going to like, no matter what you do. I'd say if this person will not stop calling after you have told them not to contact you, you are going to have to take a next step to cut off contact. I know it's a pain, but it's also important, to you moving on, to your boundaries being taken seriously, for your well-being. Given how clear it is your friends and family support you in ending this, I bet they'd be willing to chip in and help with the cost of a number change.
Member # 50014
posted 03-29-2012 02:14 AM
I just wanted to add that re: number change: if you call your cell phone or landline company and explain the circumstances and/or the situation, they may be able to give you a reduced or free change of number. esp cell phone companies.