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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » I'm afraid of my ex

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Author Topic: I'm afraid of my ex
OliviaTheOlive
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Member # 47030

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My ex-boyfriend and I broke up a year and a half ago. Shortly after the breakup, he moved to another town, which is about 2 hours away from where I currently live. After the breakup, I finally admitted to myself that he'd been emotionally abusing me through at least half of our three-year relationship. (I'm not sure whether or not he realized that he was abusive. I'm not even sure whether that makes a difference.)

We were trying to remain friends after the breakup, but that ended with me asking him not to contact me until I gave the green light (if ever), because I was tired of constantly fighting and I felt that staying in contact with him was very unhealthy for me. (All of the post-breakup fighting was a large part of what woke me up to the previous -- and continuing -- emotional abuse. Hindsight 20/20...) He emailed me several times after that, and I ignored them. Then he emailed me asking why I wasn't writing him back. I copy/pasted my last email to him, where I asked him not to talk to me until I was ready. His response was hurt and angry tirade ("I just want to be friends, why are you being like this, you're such a c***"), I ignored it, and I haven't heard from him since. That last email came about 6 months ago.

Anyway, I have a great job opportunity coming up, but it would require me to move to the town where he lives. I like that town and I have a couple of buddies there and it's a decently sized area, but I'm absolutely terrified of running into my ex. I realize that my fear may possibly be disproportionate, but I'm not sure what to do to make it go away.

Part of what I'm so afraid of is that my ex had been diagnosed bipolar before we met, but he never got treatment for it. (He didn't even tell me that he'd gotten the diagnosis until we were together for over two years.) His moods were all over the place for most of the time I knew him, with him getting more erratic and more hot-tempered as time went on. (And more... borderline violent? I'm not sure what to call it, but he was more prone to breaking things and throwing inanimate objects. He never laid a finger on ME, but that behavior scared the crap out of me regardless.) Also, his memory was often... weirdly selective, and I'm not sure if that was him intentionally screwing with me or if he truly remembered things the way they DIDN'T happen. (In one of our post-breakup fights, he claimed that I told him that I told my coworkers that I was single while we were still dating. That never happened, nor did anything even remotely close to that ever happen.)

Obviously I'm not a psychologist, so I'm not sure if any of his scary behavior is due to his bipolar disorder or not, but either way, it doesn't sit well with me. I'm afraid that I'm going to move to his town and he's going to take offense (you know, like it's "his" town because he moved there first) and he's going to do something to retaliate. And the retaliation factor wouldn't bother me so much if he hadn't previously shown signs of being delusional. (Not sure if that's the right word, but I'm referring to how he remembers things that didn't happen.) I keep picturing him showing up at my house or my place of employment, yelling about how I said things that I never actually said and somehow getting me in trouble for it.

Being so wary of an ex like this -- is that normal? I'm having a bit of difficulty figuring out whether the problem is with me or him or both of us or neither of us. I really do want to move and take the job, but I don't want to feel like I'm constantly watching my back.

Posts: 12 | From: USA | Registered: May 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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I'd say it's absolutely normal to feel afraid about going back nearby someone who you have known to be abusive in any way. Those feelings of fear about known dangers are strong cues from our own survival instincts, and they're smart.

Whether or not his behavior is due to his being bipolar, that a) doesn't make it okay, and b) doesn't make him any more safe. If he's bipolar and not getting treatment, that can very much be an acute danger to others.

It sounds like you really want to take this job and move back. If you feel like you can deal with worries you'll see him and with feeling fearful about it now and then, so long as you take some steps to assure your own safety, it probably will be okay. Do you want to go ahead and talk about what some of those things can be?

--------------------
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

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
OliviaTheOlive
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Heather, thank you so much for your response! Just getting everything off of my chest has made me feel loads better.

I'd love to get discussion going on what to do to stay safe. I'm not sure if I'm the right track or not, but I'm thinking stuff like paying close attention to my surroundings and making sure someone knows where I am all the time so they can sound the alert if they don't hear from me.

I'm also thinking that the fear is something that I can deal with and something that will slowly fade over time... and if it doesn't, I know that there are people out there that I can talk to about it. [Smile]

Posts: 12 | From: USA | Registered: May 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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You're so welcome.

So, first things first, you say you have some friends there, yes? Family, too? One of the very best things you can do is to identify who your own support circle is, then fill them in on this as much as you can so that everyone has awareness, not just you.

If you haven't told people, I know telling can be hard, but in the long run, not only is it likely to help you let go of some of your own burden, it'll also help protect you and keep you safe. Two, three or ten people watching our back is always a lot more effective than just doing it ourselves.

--------------------
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

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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