T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 39969
posted 08-23-2008 08:53 PM
Hi, I'm in a pretty desperate situation that I'm not sure how to get out of. It's been dragging on for over a year, and it's hardly getting better (it is, but very very slowly).
Anyways, a couple years ago I became close friends with a girl and after being friends for four years, we ended up dating. The relationship lasted 15 months. Our relationship was a disaster. To an extent I've learned to accept things and move on but certain things are really killing me inside. I don't know what's going on, and I'm hoping that writing here will help me figure out what to do. I'm not really sure how to get over the problems that came about in my relationship with her. I guess the first big problem was my inexperience. I never had a serious relationship before her, and it was really hard to figure out a lot of things. Practically everything about dating her was new to me. Here's a great example. You know how, in the beginning, two people have a lot of new energy towards one another and how it's common to, um, lunge at one another? It's pretty normal to have a carnal aspect to dating and, within bounds, it's healthy, but at the time, I totally freaked out about it. I got really scared and worried that I was doing something wrong or hurting her. After awhile, I learned the ropes to dating. But I made a ton of mistakes and felt like I poisoned my relationship-- in reality I did. Back when we were friends, I could talk to her forever with no fights, and once we started dating, all these "problems" came up. I became worried that she didn't like me, why she didn't reciprocate affection towards me (she was pretty shy about that sort of stuff), etc. Out of nowhere, I had another set of completely separate set of feelings. I would be angry, irritable, worried, and I'd pick on myself and hate her for little or no reason. I didn't want them to be a part of me, but they were, and I couldn't get rid of them. It wasn't anything she did, but I just felt that way. As far as I can tell, these feelings came out of nowhere. It's really frustrating because I feel that my problems in my family (my dad is a clear-cut abuser to me and my mom) sort of carried over into my relationship with her. It was like some of the relationship patterns were just grafted onto her and me. It's frustrating because I worry that the kind of environment I grew up with is something that I can't overcome, and that I'll carry this to some other girl in the future. Btw, I don't want to shift the blame onto my parents, I made the dumb decisions, and I have to accept responsibility for them, but I am trying to want to drop as much info as possible because I want this stuff to end. I need to figure out some way to overcome it, move on, and have a happy life. There were other problems too. There was a lot of long distance, and in the last couple months she started dating somebody else (emotionally cheating?). Anyways, those things are rotten, but it didn't change the fundamental point of the kinds of mistakes I made. I dunno how to descibe it but I feel so emotionally fragile. It's been a year since we've split, and I've slowly let go of most of the things, but I'm not sure how to move on, stop thinking about her, look at myself in the mirror with pride, or get on with my life. I still feel nowhere ready to enter into a relationship, and I feel that things could fall apart at any moment. It's like a house built on a very weak foundation, one small push and the whole thing will fall down. That's my emotional state. There are all sorts of other problems. I feel melancoly, depressed, angry. I used to be pretty patient guy, but now, I get angry quickly. I feel lonely and weak. It's hard to move on because it's not like a normal break up, but I wonder if I have more "growing pains" inside, and I worry that I'll turn out like my dad and hurt some girl I may be with. There were times that I just hated her and looked at her with disgust. I don't know why too. It's terrifying because I don't want to lose another girl like this. It's one thing if a relationship fails because two people are incompatible, but it's another thing if it falls apart because of things like this. I don't know, but it really knocks down my confidence. And I'm worried I'll hurt somebody else like this. Anyways, sorry for just rambling this all out. But these things are eating me up inside, and I want to know if somebody knows what I could do to get over it. I really don't have any feelings for her (well some nostalgia ones, I think thats' okay though). I want to be happy and healthy. I want to look forward to getting up in the mornings, having a girlfriend, and feel happy about myself. Right now, I have this bizarre feeling of aimlessness and depression. I don't know how to open a new chapter in my life and move on. I've tried making new friends, keeping busy with school and work, spending time on my hobbies and family, but it really isn't working, or if it is, very very slowly. I'm desperate for some help to figure out what to do and how to move on. [ 08-23-2008, 08:54 PM: Message edited by: BobbyC ]
Member # 28346
posted 08-24-2008 12:15 AM
Have you considered or do you have access to some kind of counseling? Check out your school's counseling center. Or, maybe some kind of support person in your life with whom you could talk stuff through with? Teacher, family friend, friend's parents, etc?
You can overcome it. Recognizing that you learned this type of relationship dynamic from your parents is a pretty good step. I seriously recommend counseling, I'm sure I or some of us here could help you locate resources if you want to share with us what area of the country you live in. What you're describing here sounds like depression to me. This isn't a life sentence, you can get through this, with help. And look: help yourself first. Having a girlfriend (even a good relationship with one) will not necessarily make you look forward to getting up in the morning. Keep immersing yourself in school, work, other friends, hobbies, etc. This is good. Even if it's working slowly, it's a distraction. And feel free to work this out in writing here, I know how that really helps. [ 08-24-2008, 12:16 AM: Message edited by: Alice ]
Member # 39785
posted 08-24-2008 12:25 AM
It sounds like you are having a tough time dealing with all the emotions you're feeling inside. It is normal to have all the feelings you described after you lose someone that you had a great connection with, whether it be through a normal break-up or not. Even though you say you don't have feelings for her, there is still a period where you are going to feel perhaps sad, or frustrated, or angry as part of the grieving period. For some people this could last a few days, or it could be a few months (personally, it took a year to recover from my last relationship) You mention a lot in your post that you made a lot of mistakes in your relationship. It's important to keep in mind that a relationship involves two (or more) people, so don't be too hard on yourself. You shouldn't see it as you not being compatible for her, but both of you just not compatible for each other in a romantic relationship. Sometimes when two people get into a relationships, the expectations become different, so we start to behave differently, so communication is key. Knowing what the other person wants or needs from a partner is essential. For future reference, perhaps you could go over some of the points in Supermodel: Creating & Nurturing Your Own Best Relationship Models It is a great resource that outlines things that you should talk about with your partner, and also gives examples of relationship models. In it, it states: quote: On the friendship note... much of the time, people don’t have great conflicts or feel devastated when a friendship or a more casual relationship starts developing romantically or sexually, however, may people feel far differently when the opposite happens. That’s not too surprising: our culture puts a lot of status on romantic relationships, often deeming them more important or greater than other kinds of relationships, even though a solid friendship is the basis for any kind of healthy relationship. Plus, romantic and sexual relationships tend to be highly charged, and also include friendship and other aspects of intimate bonding and relating, so when those feelings start to fade or change, we may feel like we’re losing something, rather that simply evolving and growing. It’s entirely possible to move from a romantic relationship into a platonic friendship: it just often takes a little bit of time, some mental adjustments and a person that we still care for and want to keep in our lives, even though it may be in a different way than we’re used to. You also mentioned that you were afraid this would happen again. It sounds like to me that you are overall a nice guy. Sometimes it just doesn't work out. You seem to really be aware of what is the right and wrong way to treat another person, so as long as you stay aware of that and learn from any mistakes you made, just trust yourself to make the right decisions. Sometimes it's not about anything wrong that you did, but what someone else does. Or it could be a combination of both. As long as you find ways to communicate, like with that article, you can still have a healthy relationship in the future.
Healing takes time. Writing like you did here is a good outlet. Check out other creative outlets at this thread: Creative Emotional Outlets Just know that you ARE doing something to move on by being here and talking to people that will support you. My best to you!
Member # 33665
posted 08-24-2008 01:22 AM
Bobby, if you let us know your location, we'd be glad to help you find some local resources, too. As Alice mentioned, counseling can really be a great help. Having an abusive parent doesn't mean that you are going to become an abuser too. Recognizing that possibility in yourself and looking at your actions with a careful eye is a really good sign that you won't end up as an abuser yourself. Getting over childhood abuse, or having to witness abuse as a child, can be really tough. If you are interested in counseling, we would be glad to help you find one close to where you live that you could go to and talk about these issues with.
(By the way, are you still living with your father? If so, do you need some help getting out of that living situation?)
Member # 39969
posted 08-24-2008 12:50 PM
Thanks. Is there a way to privately email a person my location so I could get some info about counselors or therapists?
It's been a year since the break up, and I'm pretty much willing to try anything to help me move on. I don't knkow if my student insurance covers therapy. It's just a frustrating experience overall. I'm angry and hurt at the way I behave towards her, but I'm also upset at the way she treated me the last couple months we were together. It just want to move on and put this behind me. I understand what everybody's saying, but I can't get my emotions/feelings to follow. I don't know how to, and after a year, all the typical things (hanging out with friends, etc), aren't doing it.
Member # 39785
posted 08-24-2008 01:03 PM
If you're going to school, does your school offer counseling services? You should ask at the administration office or look online at your school's official website to see if you can find any information on that. They are a good first person to talk to, and if you want to see a therapist from there, they will have resources specific to your local area.
There is also the RAINN hotline. You can check out their services: RAINN They have a search function to find Local Centers in your area.
Member # 3
posted 08-24-2008 01:06 PM
I don't really know that a rape crisis hotline is going to be helpful to Bobby, since that isn't his issue.
Bobby, you're welcome to either post your zip code here or to use the contact form at the main site to email it, in which case I can pop back here with some possible resources. Emailing the name of your school might also help, since there may be resources for you for therapy or counseling right there, as Blue Koi suggested.
Member # 39969
posted 08-24-2008 03:20 PM
I sent the info!
Thank you very much. Hopefully this is the first step and things will get better for me.
Member # 3
posted 08-24-2008 06:41 PM
I emailed back with a good place to start, Bobby.
But feel free to circle back here if you still need extra help or support.
Member # 39969
posted 08-24-2008 07:55 PM
Hey here's my email:
Hi, Thanks for the info. I've never been to a therapist/counselor so I have some questions I could ask you. What is a typical counseling session like? What should I look for when I visit a counselor? How should I judge whether things are successful? I dunno. I've really never done this sort of stuff, but it's been a year, and I don't feel much healthier so I might as well try.
Member # 3
posted 08-24-2008 09:36 PM
I'd start with talking about what to look for, and the first thing I'd say is to go in knowing that the right counselor for you may not be the first one you meet.
Even if your insurance is covering counseling, you're still a client paying for a service, so you want to be sure to get someone you feel good with and like. If you have to meet with more than one to find that, that's just fine and I'd say it's to be expected. In terms of what counseling is like, that's something that is going to differ from counselor to counselor. So, "What is therapy like with you?" is a great question to ask a new or prospective counselor: that way, they can tell you what their approach is like. I'd also ask whatever questions you have very openly in an initial consult. It's in the best interest of both you and a counselor to be a good fit, so it's not like you're wasting anyone's time in asking your questions. Therapy and counseling is something that often takes time, and also will often be better the longer you can stick with any given person. I'd personally say not to expect any huge changes until you've had therapy with someone who is a good fit for you for four to eight sessions, but that is a personal take (IOW: opinions on that will vary). I'd also be prepared for the fact that sometimes, therapy may not make us feel better: it can sometimes push painful things to the surface. While that's usually vital to deal with them, it can be painful sometimes. Lastly, however cheeseball this will sound, therapy really is what you bring to it. In other words, if you don't really participate, don't bring things openly to the table, aren't willing to really try and look at things and try new takes or approaches, it won't likely pay off. It's a teamwork issue, really, so it's vital both members really serve it up.
Member # 39969
posted 08-25-2008 08:54 PM
Um, I'll need info about how to get into a better living situation. I'll be graduating in a couple of months, but I dunno if I want to be at home anymore.
Also, my mom is in the same situation. Unlike me, she seems to have gone off the deep end in terms of "coping" with it. She insists things are okay when they aren't. It's pretty clear she's a battered woman, and I want to know if there's some way to get her out. Problem is, she acts as if everything is okay. If he yells at my mom, denigrates her, etc (emotional abuse) she justifies it or doesn't see the gravity of it. Thing is, I know where the women's abuse shelter is, but she won't consider that sort of stuff. She doesn't thin it's nearly that bad. Despite the horrible stuff--he yells at her all night one night, she cries herself to sleep, doesn't eat well, and is sick for a couple of days afterwards. I dunno how to deal with this. I get that if you're a battered woman, then leaving the abuser is really really hard since he isolates you from a possible support network but I don't want her to rot away with him. It's frustrating because I think that in order to cope with his abuse, she's sort of lost something in her head. It's like she's not all there in a weird way--compartamentalizing certain problems, denying the severity of them, acting like everthing's okay, some sort of denial. Anyways, I dunno what to do. Recently we had an argument and he was yelling at my mom. I got pretty upset and yelled at him, he made some snotty comment, and I blew a gasket. I'm really tired of him cutting down my mom. Anyways, it was about one step away from a full-fledged fist-fight. This time next year, I'll be on my job and all, and I can get into therapy too, but right now, it seems like an eternity, and I don't know how to fix these things. [ 08-25-2008, 08:56 PM: Message edited by: BobbyC ]
Member # 3
posted 08-26-2008 11:24 AM
Bobby: I might suggest that you go yourself (or call in) to that shelter and talk to them about this situation. They can fill you in more on these dynamics -- though you sound like you actually have a pretty good understanding of them already -- on what you can do, and on ways you can help your Mom out.
In terms of where you can live, by no means do you have to go back home after graduating. have you tried starting to find a roomie for after graduation through your existing social connections at school, or through things like roommate ads in your student union or on Craigslist?
Member # 39969
posted 08-26-2008 09:41 PM
I think I misspoke. Right now I'm living with family, but after I graduate in April, I'll be on my own. And I'll definitely move out then. I thought I could stomach the next couple of months at home, but I'm not really sure now. I was wondering if there are resources out there so I can figure out a place I can live on my own.
Probably the main reason I'm living at home is because I'm not really in a situation, financially speaking, where I can be independent of my parents. It's my last year of school, and I have a looming 15,000 in debt when I walk out. I was awarded a small stipend/scholarship that would normally be used to cover living on my own, but I want to use it to get rid of my college debt. But I'll see if I can find some cheap housing out there. It's hard to weigh "can I live in a toxic situation for several more months" or "not face tens of thousands of dollars of debt" and see which is more important. As for my mom, I'll contact the women's abuse shelter in town, and see if I can meet with them on Friday. It's really frustrating to deal with it. She basically acts as if the situation is not that bad or that what's going on isn't abuse. Frustrating. It's strange how problems with my ex have morphed into problems with my family, and well, my entire life. Anyways, I want to say thanks for listening and helping out. If I need extra help, I'll drop by again. But right now I've got my plate full with dealing with my problems with my ex and my family problems as well. [ 08-26-2008, 09:45 PM: Message edited by: BobbyC ]
Member # 3
posted 08-26-2008 09:53 PM
Really, I have yet to know anyone coming out of college who was not MONSTROUSLY wealthy who didn't walk out with debt they are carrying, often for many years,and often more than 15K. That's most adults who went to college (heck, I still haven't paid off my loans and I was last in school in 1992).
I'd say that you GETTING to the end of school and keeping your sanity and safety should come first. If you don't want to use that money for that, you can pick up an extra job. And again, I'd look to your student union or Craigslist for possibilities. If you want the most basic room and board available for cheap, you might also see if your local YMCA has housing: some do. In terms of your Mom and your Dad... ...really, it sounds to me like you've done remarkably well with this. You strike me as really insightful and observant, and I completely sympathize. And yes, one of the unfortunate parts of being in abuse for a longtime, being abused, is that as time goes on, for the person deep in it, it often starts to feel more and more normal. If part of the way your dad abuses is to make big threats, your Mom also might feel like she's got it not-so-bad if he does what he does but does NOT live up to the bigger threats he makes. That's sadly common. Might your Mom stay in this until the bitter end? A hard possible truth is that she might. But I'd also leave some room in your head and heart for the possibility that she might not. And I'd try to let go of the idea that this is who she has become: in other words, while yes, this has been a considerable part of her life experience, and that's nothing small, when someone has been abused, they've really been suppressed and sublimated. IOW, who she is just probably has gotten more and more buried. I'm betting the shelter will have some helps for you, and if nothing else, at the very least, some good support. I'm glad to be of help if I can. Personally, I spent my early adolescence in an abusive house too (I left at 15, though), and I know how tough it can be both to deal with that AND to be able to still do things like get through school and get yourself on your own two feet. You've my admiration for keeping it together and staying on your own path to do what's best for you at the same time. It isn't easy.
Member # 39969
posted 09-02-2008 05:19 PM
I ended up taking your advice, well sort of. I contacted the ppl from the link you sent me, and I'll be set up with a therapist, or psychologist, in the next couple of days. I also contacted the domestic abuse shelter where I live, and once they email me back, I'll figure out what to do afterwards.
I talked to my sister about moving out, and she more or less agreed that both my mom and I should move out. My aim is to pick up another part-time job at school to make enough to pay rent for some cheap place. However, she doesn't think that my mom will ever leave my dad. My mom is getting old, and I think the longer she'll stay with him, the less likely she'll ever leave him. I guess there's a selfish reason for pushing for this as well: I don' want to look back and say I didn't try. At least I won't be wracked with guilt. I feel kinda guilty that my mom stays with him, partly for the benefit of my sister and me. I dunno. The whole thing is really frustrating. I promised myself I'd never behave poorly to somebody I cared about like my dad, but right as my first relationship began, I saw a lot of my dad in myself. And it blew up in my face. I didn't yell, scream, hit or do anything like that, but I certainly acted off my insecurities and was a decent jerk to her. It's like a whole new side of me came out of nowhere-- insecure, angry, petty, etc. I don't know how to grow out of these things. I've been trying to for the last year, and I don't think I could take another relationship failing because of something like this. I dunno, but I feel really ashamed and angry at myself about this stuff. I saw my sister in a similar situation too. She just ended a relationship with a guy who was a lot like my dad--domineering, self-centered, condescending, disrespectful, etc. I don't know what's going on but whatever it is, it's like we've absorbed these things and will continue the cycle again. Sorry for rambling. I hate talking about this stuff. It's like opening up a big ole' can of crazy on some poor soul who chooses to listen.
Member # 3
posted 09-02-2008 06:00 PM
(Bobby, I'm about to run out on some errands, but when I come back in an hour or two, your post is at the top of my list. And I'd implore you to consider that none of this is crazy, nor are you burdening anyone with this conversation.)
Member # 3
posted 09-02-2008 08:03 PM
Okay, I'm back.
I'm feeling like you don't recognize the power of what you've been doing and starting to do, Bobby. What tends to perpetuate cycles of abuse most is denial and silence. What have you been doing? Talking about it with your family. calling it out. Seeing where these patterns may be showing up in other relationships and areas of your life. Seeking out help and support. Looking to nip this cycle in the bud. All of those things -- heck, even one -- are going to actually make it very difficult for this pattern to continue with you and with some of the people around you. In other words, from where I am sitting, you are doing the incredibly difficult thing (and boy, do I know how difficult, been there myself) of being the person in your family to do all of this and basically say a big, loud, "No more," to your familial pattern. There's nothing selfish about ANYTHING you are doing. What you're doing benefits all of you. You're right, your Mom may or may not get on board, but you are trying, and you're trying to do all you can to stop the cycle with you. That alone would be a lot. Behavior and relationship patterns we learn as children and grow up with can be really hard to unlearn and outgrow, it's true. And it may take more than a year, or even more than ten years. But we make progress: we can walk into relationships talking about these things, having an eye out, taking responsibility. We can seek out help and slog through it. Again, you're doing all of this, and that makes it pretty darn unlikely this cycle will do anything but come to a halt with you. Once you find a good counselor, I'm willing to bet they will tell you exactly what I've just told you, and I hope that they do because hearing it more than once might help bring home the value of what you're doing and how commendable it is. I think you're being seriously amazing.
Member # 39969
posted 09-20-2008 09:40 PM
Thanks for the kind words. I hope you're right and this is the beginning of something good. I guess I'll just take the wait and see approach. I just can't go on living like this.
I've started seeing a therapist, but my sessions seem to be pretty infrequent. After I went through an initial interview, I was supposed to be paired up with somebody, but it took them awhile to get back to me, and the first "real" session is scheduled for the middle of October. I have to admit that talking to a stranger about my very personal problems is very very uncomfortable on so many different levels. I talked to the people at the domestic abuse shelter, but I've put that on hiatus for now. I've sort of poked and prodded my mom about this stuff, but she won't listen. No matter how bad it gets, it seems I can't get even get her to consider any sort of concrete action. I've found an apartment with a reasonable rent and will be moving out at the end of October, assuming everything works out. Right now the situation is pretty rotten but tolerable. I can put up with the guilt of what happened with my ex and my family problems because I'm young, and I've still got a lot of time to try new things, but I'm just so exhausted of all of this stuff. If I'm 28 or 29 and still being haunted by this stuff, I'll be going nuts. I even understand that progress may be slow, but if nothing significant happens, I think I'll lose it.