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Author Topic: I know he's a not a mind reader but...
LifeEnColor
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I really wish he was sometimes. I've been around here a while, so anyone whose read my posts in the past knows I was sexually assaulted by a previous boyfriend and very recently (2 weeks ago) I finally cut off all contact with him and threatened to change my number if he ever tried to call or text me. Obviously this is a huge step and it feels good, but I'm not fixed or healed or magically unhurt anymore.

I'm still really, really messed up over this. I still have panic attacks (less frequent) but I am known to break down sobbing or just tear up at random points during the day. I fall into minor lapses of depression where I don't have the energy or motivation to do anything, I can't make conversations, I can barely think, and I'm really just stuck where I am staring off at nothing.

I had one of those days today. I'm at a beach house with my family for a week on vacation. This is the beach I met my previous boyfriend at. Where I spent every weekend. Where I spent the majority of my time with him. And also where I lost my virginity to him. I haven't been back here since we had sex for the first time, and let me tell you, this is no vacation for me.

Just seeing the boardwalk where he worked, the beach we walked on, the streets I drove down...the first two days here were just a series of breaking into cold sweats, shocks, minor panic attacks, and fits of depression. I was finally getting better until last night when we all went to the boardwalk, with all the games and rides. Where he used to work and where I know some people he introduced me to. My heart was absolutely hammering in my chest, I was breathing too fast, and I was shaking the whole time I was there. But I was there with my mother, my sister, and my niece + nephew, so I couldn't let on how scared I was or how close I was to a full blown break down.

Throughout the night I was texting my boyfriend and he was helping keep my calm until I could get back to the house and call him. We spoke for a while and I started feeling a lot better. But when I tried to bring up what had happened and how much I appreciated what he did, he awkwardly shrugged if off, attempted a joke, and quickly changed the subject. I know he isn't good with this topic--who would be?--but I need him to be able to talk about it. Because I would love to just sweep what happened to my under the primordial rug, forget it ever happened, never speak of it, and get on with my life. But I know I can't. I've tried it before and it just escalated and built up to the point where I had three massive panic attacks in one day and couldn't trust myself to be left alone.

But if I can't even talk about it with him, the only person who knows just how bad this all is, who can I speak with??

After we stopped talking, I suddenly had more to say, because he hadn't given me much of a chance earlier, so I texted him some things and really wanted to call him back. But he grew awkward again and it was late at night and he had work early in the morning. He offered to stay up and talk, but I couldn't ask him of that and he went to sleep and I cried for an hour before I dozed off to.

And now today I'm strongly resentful of him. I'm angry he didn't realize I needed him. He's closer to me than most anyone else and should know that I can never ask him things like this. I want him to push aside all of my, 'oh no, I'm alright, you go now, I'll be fine' and refuse to let me go until I've said everything needing saying.

This has happened COUNTLESS times. I feel awful for taking up his time with my whining (no, he doesn't see it that way, this is all me) and I don't want him to start resenting me for holding him back from other things so he can take care of me. I want him to be the one that insists we stay on the phone, that he spends the night, that he stays up a little longer for me...and he just doesn't. He goes to sleep, he goes back to his room, he stops texting, he leaves me to myself when all I need is him to stay with me.

But how the hell do I communicate that?? Everything was made worse today when he didn't try contacting me until 6pm. He knew the night I had last night, he knew how upset I was, he knew I wanted to talk today...and I don't get anything until 6pm? I know he has work, but I also know he can still drop a text. I also know he gets off of work at 4, but I still didn't get anything for another 2 hours. I haven't called him back or sent him a text, and I don't know if I plan to at all. I don't know what I'd say or how I'd say it and I'm hurt.

Am I being completely unreasonable? I feel so shitty. I hate where I am right now, I feel insanely vulnerable, and I'm angry at the only person I want help from because he can't read my mind from 300 miles away.

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Heather
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Hey, LifeEnColor. I'm so sorry that you're having such a hard time.

I can talk with you about this, but I want to make sure I'm really the right person to do so, so I want to be transparent. based on what I know about your current partner, I'm not actually surprised this isn't something he can talk about well, and wouldn't expect him to be, for a handful of reasons.

Mind, I don't think it is asking to much of a partner to ask for them to listen to you when you need emotional support, with the given that it's not sound to expect one person to be the only person we get that help and support from, nor to expect a partner to be able to essentially give counseling. However, while I think it's sound for partners to expect support-within-reason like this from each other, I'm just not sure it's realistic for you to expect THIS partner to respond the way that you want him to, especially around this issue. I do think a different partner than this one, or in a different relationship than this one, you could realistically expect your partner to do well supporting you about previous abuse, for sure.

Of course, if you are not outright asking for what you want, or feel like you're incapable of doing that or unwilling, this probably isn't just about what limitations he may have, either.

Knowing all of those things would be part of my talk with you about this, do you want to take to me about it? If not, no worries, I can leave this one for other users or volunteers.

--------------------
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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LifeEnColor
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Believe me, I know a lot of the issues lie on me.

I've never brought this issue up with him before. I continuously tell him that I'm fine, yes, please go to sleep/back to your dorm/what have you, I'll be fine. He does try to push sometimes, but he always says something like, 'please, if you need me to stay with you, please say so. I promise I will'. And thats where my problem is. I can't ask him to do that. Not because I'm afraid he'll be mad, or he'll just bail out anyway, but because I'd feel horrible asking him.

I grew up being very, very independent with a mother that more or less is a man hater. I was raised to do everything myself, to never ask for help because it was a sign of weakness, and to especially never ask it from a man or to ever trust one. As a person, I'm very prideful and little things get under my skin. So to be raised like that, to be raped, and then to actually /need/ help is whats really killing me.

I feel weak. I put on a really strong and 'kiss my ***' front for everyone to see. My boyfriend is literally the only person to know that all of that really is just a front. But that makes me feel 10x more vulnerable with him. NOT in a bad way. I can really by myself with him and he loves me. But still...I hate appearing weak in front of him. Especially him. I know he doesn't see it that way, that he has told me many times how strong and brave he thinks I am, but I always have that little voice in my head telling me how weak and pathetic I am, so I try so much harder to appear strong and confident and like I could care less about what happened.

Does any of this make sense??? I know that he would do anything for me and he wouldn't ever regret it, but I just can't ask for it. I expect him to hear 'yes yes yes, please stay, I need you' when all I'm saying is, 'nonono, don't stay. please go. please please please go.' I don't think this makes him an unsuitable partner or bad boyfriend.

And I did sort of mention last night about how his avoidance is just more harmful to me. He said he would make sure he caught himself next time he tried and do what he could for me. No boyfriend/girlfriend will ever like talking about how their girlfriend/boyfriend was raped by an ex. I think some awkwardness is to be expected...

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Heather
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I want to ask you something I think I've asked before, but I think it's really important to look at.

Setting your boyfriend aside for now, do YOU think that, at this point in your life, YOU are really in the right space to be part of a healthy intimate relationship?

Do you feel like you have the skills and strengths people tend to need to do that, like, for instance, the ability to take positive risks to ask someone you trust for emotional support/help you need, and to feel able to be vulnerable sometimes with a partner? What about feeling able to be seen as the whole person you are, not just the good stuff or the things that impress?

A while back, we talked about a conversation you were going to have with him: http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/ultimatebb.php?/ubb/get_topic/f/2/t/013450/p/1.html#000000

Just to see how a process like this has gone for you, did you ever wind up having that conversation?

[ 08-11-2011, 08:27 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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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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SilverLining
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Hi LifeEnColor.
I'm sorry that your feeling this way and reading through your post I can imagine how your feeling.

Now... Partners... Differ in many ways and some won't be exactly easy about talking about things like that. Some people are very open minded, don't mind talking about anything at all, others however might not be as open or as willing (using "willing" because the might not feel comfortable) to talk about such things, even if you've been together for a while. I think that might be something you want to keep in mind.

I wanted to ask you some things, how often do you try to talk to him about these things? Have you ever talked to him about how you need his support when your in the moments your feeling depressed or like your going to break down? Has he always been the same way when you start talking about your previous boyfriend or has he just recently started this reaction to talking about that stuff?

I know it might be quite a bit, but it's just to give a better idea of the situation and more about his part. If you haven't talked to him about it, I suggest you do because as you said, he's not a mind reader but if you told him how you feel and that you do need him, it isn't as if he can't know.

I hope I can end up helping you in anyway possible. [Frown]

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SilverLining 2012

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LifeEnColor
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Yes, I think I can be in a healthy relationship right now. Honestly, I think it's helped me more than anything.

This is going to sound really rough and probably pretty bad, but this is how I kind of see it. We're all taught that if you fall of the bike, you get right back on, right? Otherwise, if you put it off, you'll be more scared and it'll just blow up bigger and bigger until you're too afraid to ever ride again.

No, I'm not saying I got into this relationship to prove I could do it. That is not what I'm saying even a little bit. I didn't even let myself realize what had happened until I was already in this relationship. And my boyfriend was right there, the night I did, to hold me and to comfort me.

I think if I hadn't been in this relationship when I understood what had happened to me, I would be totally terrified of men. My mom had already raised me with sentences like, ' men can never be trusted, they'll only hurt you' and with a rant that ended in my mom telling me that I'd be raped one day. And guess what? I was.

I'm not making excuses or anything, I know I tend to ramble a lot here, but it all comes down to, yes, I am comfortable with myself to be in an intimate relationship right now. I think a lot of this discomfort with asking him to go the extra few miles with me is because we've been apart for 3 1/2 months. We only saw each other a couple times in that span. The first time we had intercourse again a month after we had last seen each other, I was so shy and embarrassed, it was as if I hadn't already been with him countless times. I feel like I 'drop back into my bad habits' when we're apart, because I don't have that physical comfort that has really been helping me.

For me, words can be pretty darn empty. Really, really empty. I place a lot of significance on actions and physical deeds. So when that isn't possible, I start doubting myself a lot. Does any of this make sense?? Geeze, I'm sorry for rambling so much.

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Heather
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Sorry for the bad timing, but I need to head out for the day.

But I will check in with this during my first-thing-of-the-morning rounds tomorrow, or you can keep talking with a volunteer.

In the meantime, what I'd suggest for tonight is that you simply DO make a very real effort to just ask your boyfriend for what you want and need tonight if you two talk? Yes, I hear all the ways you say you feel you cannot, but I also hear you in this post saying you feel capable and able to participate in a healthy relationship, and this is, IMO, very basic for that, this business of saying "Hey, I really need some support in this right now from you," when that is what you need so badly and have needed for some time.

If you this person loves you, cares for you and is truly aching to do that for you, all of which you have said you feel is absolutely so, this is not a big risk to take. In fact, I'd posit that NOT taking that risk makes your relationship more likely to fail to thrive than doing that. Okay?

Big step, I know. But one that's important and one where it seems like not taking steps like this is probably only really holding you back.

--------------------
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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Heather
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I'm here now.

quote:
This is going to sound really rough and probably pretty bad, but this is how I kind of see it. We're all taught that if you fall of the bike, you get right back on, right? Otherwise, if you put it off, you'll be more scared and it'll just blow up bigger and bigger until you're too afraid to ever ride again.

No, I'm not saying I got into this relationship to prove I could do it. That is not what I'm saying even a little bit. I didn't even let myself realize what had happened until I was already in this relationship. And my boyfriend was right there, the night I did, to hold me and to comfort me.

I hear what you're saying. At the same time, I'm not in agreement with your rationale, here. I think there are absolutely times in our lives when it's not sound for us to be in intimate relationships, and when it's really unsound to keep trying to have them when we know or suspect -- or it's made clear by others -- that we have things we need to work on with ourselves before we can really have relationships of real quality and really function in those relationships well.

I keep seeing a lot of barriers for you in choosing a sound partner and engaging in an intimate relationship right now, as you keep expressing those barriers in your posts here. You have a lot of rationales for those barriers a lot, but whether those rationales are or are not sound, the barriers remain, all the same.

Back when, I think you'd mentioned you had counseling/therapy before. Can you remind me of how that went? How many sessions did you have and on what kind of schedule? And in that therapy, was real time spent talking about your relationship with your mother, your upbringing, your previous abuse and your relationship now, with you being very candid and truthful about all of those things?

--------------------
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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LifeEnColor
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Sorry, I posted a reply last night, but it was eaten some how.

To sum it up, we did end up speaking last night, and I didn't hold anything back telling him how I felt. I really feel that these issues were resolved. We agree that we both need to be more attentive with ourselves and each other. I agreed that I would consider my feelings first if I ever felt I needed him at an 'inconvenient' time, and he stressed that he always wants to be there (physically or just emotionally) when I need him. I really, really do feel like this has been mostly resolved. I know it'll still be difficult for me to ask for help, but I'm going to put forth a real effort to finally put myself first in situations when I need it.

I know I have a lot of barriers. But honestly, I've gotten so, so, so much better since I've been in this relationship. I've let my guard down more than ever before when I'm with him, opened up completely and let him in. Even though I felt incredibly vulnerable, he never made me regret it and made me feel safe.

Can we maybe discuss some of these barriers you're seeing? I know it can be hard to see them for yourself and I'd appreciate the help, with seeing them and for taking steps to breaking them down a little more.

As for counseling, I've had a lot of it. Since I was in 8th grade, when my parents divorced, I started counseling. I think I had the same therapist for two years when she went on maternity leave and never came back. I stopped counseling until my senior year of high school. One of my friends really saved me by getting me to join the school's Alateen group, where I went once a week for an hour. I can't tell you how much that group turned my life around. At that point I was dealing with my mother at her worst, a man who was closer to me than my father had died of lung cancer, and my dad had told me he had been considering suicide. I was going through a lot, so I had the Alateen group, an in-school therapist, and an out of school therapist. I kept Alateen and my school therapist a secret from my mother, because I know she'd react badly to knowing about it.

I think I was always very candid with those therapists, and it helped me a lot. But I stopped going before my sexual assault and I never really got counseling for it. I tried to go to my college therapist, but I was always so upset and ashamed to speak about it, I stopped going after only two sessions. I promised myself I would start again, but I'm still not sure how well I'll do.

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Heather
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That's so fantastic that you took that step. You know, you have been taking a lot of big, bold steps lately, and I hope you're giving yourself props for them. They're all a really big deal. I'm so glad you did that, and so glad it went well. Go, you!

Are you still going to Alateen or ACOA, if you feel you've aged out of Alateen? If not, I think getting back in that habit would probably be really great for you.

I think if you could combine a regular meeting like that with some counseling to address both everything that has happened since you had regular counseling you really participated in, and the things you were already working on when you were in ongoing therapy you disclosed in, you'd be so well supported, and start getting the kind of help it seems to me you need.

In terms of the things I'm seeing, they're the things we've been talking about since you've started posting here. The issues with assertiveness, codependency, fears of being vulnerable with people you feel you can trust were you vulnerable with them, forming healthy relationships, and, I'd say, downplaying or dismissing the gravity of certain big things.

It's first thing of a day for me, so I may be leaving some things out, but just off the top of my head with what we have talked about so far -- I don't play my cards close to my vest, just FYI, if I observe something about one of you I think may be an issue, I put it out there for you right away -- those are the issues that strike me as the biggies.

--------------------
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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LifeEnColor
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No, I haven't been to Alateen since my senior year of highschool. I don't think anything like it is offered at my college. I would definitly like to join up with an ACOA group if at all possible. I'll have to ask my school therapist when I start seeing her again.

I understand and recognize all of the issues you've put forth that you've seen in me. I think I've come a long way with my assertiveness issues and I'm continuing to work on them at my own pace. Can I ask what you mean about codependency though?

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Heather
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Sure. Do you have a sense of what codependency is?

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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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LifeEnColor
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This is as much as I know about it:

co·de·pend·ent   [koh-di-pen-duhnt]
adjective
1.
of or pertaining to a relationship in which one person is physically or psychologically addicted, as to alcohol or gambling, and the other person is psychologically dependent on the first in an unhealthy way.

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Heather
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Okay, that's pretty brief and probably not very helpful. As well, using addiction as a model here isn't useful, because we're not talking about substances, but about interpersonal relationships. I'd actually say that definition is problematic in a few ways.

Here are a couple of links with more information (and better info, IMO) to fill you in:

• http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/signs-of-a-codependent-relationship
• http://www.planetpsych.com/zPsychology_101/codependency.htm
• http://www.nmha.org/go/codependency

--------------------
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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LifeEnColor
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Alright, I've starting reading through the first link you've given me and it's alright given me a better understanding of codependency. With which relationship are you saying I'm codependent in? My boyfriend? Parents? Friends?
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Heather
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Well, listening to you talking about issues with your mother through these threads, it seems likely to me that has been a codependent relationship for you, and I've seen threads of codependency in how you've talked about your current relationship, too. same goes with the ex who abused you.

Those are the only relationships of yours I think we've talked about, though, so I can't speak for other relationships you might have.

But, when we grow up in codependency, that usually means that's the model we're mostly learning per relationships, so it's usually bound to be a part of all our relationships unless we cultivate awareness about that, make changes TO codependent relationships, and unlearn those ways of relating, learning ways to be involved with people without codependency.

--------------------
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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LifeEnColor
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Yeah, I agree the relationships I have with my parents are very codependent. Both are heavy alcoholics and my dad is just recently getting over a massive depression that lasted my whole life. I don't worry about him so much anymore, he has my stepmom now, so he's happier. But my mom seems to be getting worse. She's recently found a church group that she clings too in a way I don't find healthy for her and her drinking has also gotten worse.

I know it may seem like the relationship with my boyfriend is codependent, but I can honestly say I don't think it is. We talk about and resolve issues together all the time. I think I can further make it a healthier relationship by becoming more assertive and bringing forth issues when they first start to him, and fixing them together.

I can see how growing up in a codependent household has left me thinking that I'm the only one who can fix problems and that I have to so it by myself. But I don't want to fall into this repetitive nature with my current relationship or any future relationships I may have.

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Heather
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I think that being able to evaluate whether a relationship is codependent or not when a) one just, minutes ago, got a sense of what that was, and b) one hasn't yet done any work, over time, at unlearning codependency is pretty darn iffy.

I don't say that to diss you or insult you, I say it in the interest of supporting you in starting to do the kinds of things you might need to in order to have healthy, happy relationships. If we decide outright, and in a hasty way, that something can't possibly be going on, we're pretty unlikely to be able to work on that if it is, you know?

So, instead of trying to evaluate this by yourself, and really quickly, how about just bringing this to the table in counseling, take the time with someone qualified to more deeply evaluate this, and then, if needed, start working on it there?

--------------------
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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LifeEnColor
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I just want to start working on it now, and I won't even be able to start counseling for another three weeks. And then I'll have to balance that with seven classes, tutoring, and cross country.

And the reason I jumped to that conclusion so quickly is because obviously I've been in a couple codependent relationships and my relationship with my boyfriend isn't like that at all.

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Heather
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I'd just not close the door so quickly, that's all. In part because it really is pretty darn hard to unlearn codependency, and if it's how you grew up, and you haven't done any work with unlearning, it's very, very unlikely that it isn't...well, kind of part of everything.

I get making a balance of all these things work. This is kind of how life is for pretty much everyone (and the bad news is, it only gets tougher as you get older). But I'm sure you can work it out and make that kind of commitment to yourself, for yourself, and for the quality of your life.

Even if you could start counseling right this second, the chance of things being radically different in a few weeks is very small. So, you need to wait a few weeks. That's okay. In the meantime, you can just keep making the efforts you are, think a bit more about all of this, and maybe just do some advance work around time management so that fitting what will probably be one hour a week of help into your life can work as well for you as possible.

[ 08-14-2011, 02:48 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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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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