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Author Topic: So Upset.
LifeEnColor
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I've recently been more upset than usual about what happened to me. When my boyfriend visited two weeks ago, we had a really long and serious talk, and I opened up more than I usually do. I think I'm finally able to accept that I was raped and call it that in my head, even if I still can't say it out loud.

My ex still messages me and tries to talk to me, despite what he did to me and continued to do. He would drunkenly call and text me and say horrible things, and now he messages me like we're just thick as thieves.

And look, I know I keep saying the same thing and keep getting the same advice--if I don't want him to talk to me, I need to break all ties from him. But I just can't right now, ok? It's plain and simple. And no amount of telling me I should is going to get me to do. I just can't.

Recently my boyfriend and I spoke about my ex messaging me and he told it to me straight. Maybe I was just overly sensitized to my emotions, but what he said just made me feel so much worse about myself. He told me that my ex doesn't deserve to have so much control over my emotions and thoughts (because whenever he messages me, I usually have a panic/anxiety attack, flashbacks, or I just feel terrible about myself. What my boyfriend says it true, and I agree with him. But what does it say about me as a person that I allow the man who raped me to still have so much say in what I feel? That he takes up so much of my thoughts? That I'm desperately trying to seek out counseling to forget about him? I feel like such a pathetic human being that I allow him to do this to me. I feel weak, pathetic, scared, and just terrible all the time now. I know my boyfriend did /not/ mean this to happen, and this thread really isn't about him, but I have resent towards him for this now. I spoke with him on the phone tonight and he gave me some bad news (I can't visit him next weekend anymore) and I just got so angry with him. Not even because of the weekend--I was just still so angry about how terrible I feel.

I don't know what to do. I still haven't been able to work out a payment deal with my counseling service that I can afford. I'm so trapped and upset and frustrated and I just feel terrible. I don't even know if I'm looking for advice right now. I'm just so tired.

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Djuna
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Hi there, LifeEnColor. I really wish I had a button that sends a hug or a hot chocolate through the Internet - it's clear how difficult this is for you right now. I'm sure it's difficult to write down, too, and I'm really happy that you feel able to talk about this here. [Smile]

It's absolutely okay to vent in the way you're doing without a particular question in mind. I want you to know that I don't think it's "pathetic" at all of you that you think about your ex a lot. I think it's very understandable that you feel the way you're saying. [Smile]

I hear you saying that you don't feel able to break off communication with him yet - and I definitely understand that too, although I do think that breaking off communication would be an awesome thing to do for yourself. It's true that sometimes we just don't feel able. Do you want to talk some more about why you don't feel able to cut him out? What would it mean if you were to do that?

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In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I dont know what I am. I dont know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

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Heather
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(I'm here today, too, LifeEnColor, and I'm really glad to hear from you. I've been concerned about how you've been doing.)

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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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LifeEnColor
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I can't cut him out because I'd feel bad for upsetting. I know that I shouldn't care at all how he feels and a part of me wants him to feel bad, but I don't know...

And the thing is, I don't think he even knows what he did to me, or how it's effected me these last ten months. So mentioning anything about it to him would not be met well...I already have a hard enough time believing what happened, and if I hear him deny it up and down, I think I'd just convince myself that he's right and I'm wrong.

But I know that if I did cut off all ties, I'd feel better. I wouldn't have to worry about the next time he'd try to contact me, or what I'd be doing when it happened.

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Heather
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Can I ask how, in general, you'd say you deal with anyone if and when you know they are doing you harm?

In other words, someone is harming you or is a danger to you. Would you say you are capable of a) putting your emotional or physical safety first in considering what to do and taking action and b) recognizing that giving anyone the opportunity to harm you isn't healthy, happy or safe for you OR them?

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LifeEnColor
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a) I think it would depend on the person. If it was someone I hardly knew, I wouldn't have a problem with doing what I had to to keep myself safe. But with people who are close to me, friend, family, etc;, I find it's much harder. Thats when I don't want to hurt them, even though they're doing worse to me, in order to help myself. I get caught up in thinking about the good things and just pushing the bad to the back of my mind.

b) I know it isn't healthy for me if they're hurting me--physically, emotionally, or sexually. I know that I'm not in a very safe or healthy place right now.

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Ste-Funnie
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was it your ex who raped you? if so (and even if not) i can understand how u'd feel so horrible about it. if my former stepdad who molested me started texting me a lot i'd freak out! im sorry this happened to u [Frown]

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~Stephanie Gabriella Murray
I'm very gay for being a lesbian, and not gay to be what I'm not

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Heather
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LifeEnColor: I feel like maybe you're not understanding -- especially since you didn't answer that part of my question -- how abusing other people is also not helpful for the people doing the abusing; how it hurts them, too. And how all;owing them to harm you enables them in that.

Do you feel like you really get that, deep down? If not, want me to talk you through it a bit?

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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 don't really see how it harms them. They don't seem to care. Unless you're talking about how I'm enabling them by letting them abuse me so overall they're just becoming worse people and so they're being hurt by that. Or that they just think that their behavior is acceptable because I let them keep doing it whenever they want.
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Heather
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Let me try and help fill you in on some of this. You can obviously take or leave what I'm going to say, okay?

By all means, the person hurt most in any situation of abuse or harassment is the person being abused and harassed.

However, it does not feel good to abuse someone.

You're often not going to see that with someone being abusive to you, because you are not going to be the person they show that to you (after all, being the person who seems in control is a big facet of abuse dynamics) in ways you'll likely recognize.

I say that because all by itself, someone who is abusing is someone showing us, with that alone, that they are hurting in some way and expressing that pain in terrible, unhealthy ways.

Happy people don't abuse people. Healthy people don't abuse people. People who feel good, who feel loved, who like themselves, do not abuse people. Allowing someone to abuse you does not make or keep them happy. If they were happy, they wouldn't be abusing or harassing you.

Cutting people off from that ability is kind of like pulling a thorn out of someone's foot: it hurts at first, but the thorn hurt, too, and if it had stayed in, their foot would have gotten infected, and everything would keep getting worse and keep hurting. When you pull the thorn out, you create the ability for things to start to heal and hurt less, for as much power as you can have with that. We aren't not loving someone in removing avenues for them to harm us and themselves: we're actually loving them much better and far more than we would be if we didn't do that.

If and when we enable anyone in abuse -- which absolutely includes allowing them to continue to abuse us when we do have real ways out (as in, you won't have to live on the street without food if you leave, they aren't holding you hostage with a gun to your head) -- then all we are doing on top of helping them keep hurting us is helping them to keep hurting us AND themselves, rather than cutting them off of ways to express their feelings in harmful, unhealthy ways so they are much more likely to seek out and learn ways to express those feelings in healthy ways, which IS what will likely make them happy. Enabling also sends a reward message to someone harming/abusing: in other words, in allowing them to keep doing it, in continuing to engage with them, the message they get is that being abusive gets them what they want. You also are telling them that's it's okay to abuse you and others, which I think you'll agree is a pretty scary message to be sending.

There's a lot of other complicated stuff about enabling, too, but I really think the best way for you to find out about that is with some in-depth, ongoing therapy. (And if you're still having trouble finding that, I'd still be happy to help you.)

If you want a very basic place to start, I found this series of links for you that talks about enabling very well. It's for people enabling addicts, but it's relevant for enabling any kind of abuse, not just substance abuse.

http://www.egetgoing.com/drug_addiction/enabling.asp

You've grown up in what sounds like a very unhealthy setting, one you're still in to a large degree, so it's likely to take you a good deal of time to really get a handle on all the complexities of that, including the ways it's influenced your other relationships. Until you do, and until you change how you respond to abuse and harassment in your intimate relationships, chances are awfully good you will keep winding up in unhealthy relationships. I don't want that for you, and I hope you don't want that for yourself and your life.

But what you can do by yourself, even though I know it can be hard, is to try very hard to remind yourself that the idea of helping anyone abusive to abuse you or anyone else is something you do to avoid causing the pain is a lie. It's a lie abusers often tell people they abuse, it's a lie people who are in abuse, or are enabling abuse, often tell themselves. I understand that it can feel true, but you have to know and accept that it is NOT TRUE. It's a lie. The truth is that doing that helps them to keep hurting you, helps them to keep hurting, and helps you to find ways to hurt yourself through them.

[ 06-24-2011, 12:32 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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LifeEnColor
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I'm sorry, but I have to come straight out and say that this post made me angry. I get that in a therapy sense and from a psychology perspective, this makes awesome and perfect sense. But I absolutely refuse to take any of the blame for being abused. I'm not going to sit back and say to myself 'aww, I'm letting them do this to me, which is rewarding them, so really, it's all my fault.' And I could care less that they're hurting and just don't know what to do about it, aside from hurting me. I can get through my own problems without hurting others. Why can't they? There's no excuse. None.

Sure, I get the whole 'vicious cycle' thing, but I'm not going to set aside or forget the fact that they are HURTING me on PURPOSE, just because they feel bad about themselves. I call bullshit. Why do I have to be the one to understand why they're doing this, and then put myself out to the slaughter so that I can try to help them? No. If I'm making the effort to help myself, they sure as anything can do the same for themselves.

I get that I have the ability to help them by changing my own reactions to the pain their causing me. But thats just it. I have to be the one who sets everything in motion so that we can both be healthier. Believe me, I know I sound petulant right now, but why should I lift a finger to help my abusers? I should only be putting effort into helping me, myself, and I. I don't want to care about my abuser AT ALL. I don't want to take a minute, step back, and see things from their perspective. Because it all comes down to the fact that they have hurt me, on their own volition, because they didn't care to find healthier ways to deal with their problems.

I come here, I look for therapy, I seek help from friends, I do yoga, I meditate, I go on walks, I exercise, I draw, I write, I sing, I dance, and I cry--all by myself, looking for ways to heal and be happier. Why can't they put in the same effort? Why should I do all these things for them too? Because I won't. I really just won't.

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Heather
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It's okay to feel angry. I don't have a problem with you or anyone else feeling or expressing anger here in appropriate ways. That's nothing you need to be sorry for.

However, what I said was meant IN NO WAY to imply that you are at fault for being abused and harassed. You are not. That responsibility lies solely with the people who have done or are still doing those things to you.

I also agree that there is no excuse for abusing someone. None.

I'm really glad to hear you expressing this anger, and glad to finally see you really putting the blame where it belongs, something I feel like you haven't done much of until this moment. Heck, if you feel able to be angry and express anger here like this and not anywhere else, I am 100% willing to read/listen to all the anger you want to express and support you in those feelings, even if and when it's me you feel angry at.

And you don't have to be the one to try and understand why they're doing this (but you keep asking, so I keep answering). You aren't obligated AT ALL to try and understand it, even if I do think that getting some of it a bit more might benefit you in learning to shut the door on people harming you so that it is much more difficult or impossible for them to keep on doing it.

I also think that cutting someone off from ways to abuse you is not "putting yourself out to the slaughter." It's quite the opposite.

Who knows why the people doing you harm won't take care of themselves the way you are taking care of yourself. That's very individual. But what you can know is that they are not, and they are even less likely to if you, in any way, enable them to keep hurting you.

Whether you cut them off out of love for them, love for yourself or both, that is NOT going to hurt anyone, which is what you keep expressing and what I was responding to. Doing what you can, within your power, to cut them off from having ways to do you harm is only going to help you AND them.

I care most about you, myself, but since you have kept expressing that you don't out of care for them and not wanting to hurt them, that is why I am trying very hard to make clear that allowing them to hurt you does NOT help them, either. We already know that it really, really doesn't help you.

You do not have to do any of this to help them. I don't think you owe them anything. But I think you owe yourself everything, including doing what you can to help yourself, which very much involves protecting yourself, as much as you can, from people you know to be a danger to you or otherwise unhealthy for you. And I think you not cutting them off hasn't been about you refusing to think about them or help them. Read your own posts, that's not what you're saying.

I think it's been about refusing to, or feeling like you just don't know how to, help yourself. You've listed a lot of great things you have done to help yourself, but all of those things are going to be very limited in how much they can help you if you don't first cut off people harming you.

Make sense?

If it doesn't try thinking of it this way. Let's say I have a food in my fridge that has gone bad. It's not my fault it went bad, food goes bad. But I keep choosing to eat it instead of throwing it away. It upsets my stomach when I do, so I take some Pepto, drink some extra water, do some yoga, grab a nap. Those things will probably make me feel better, but if I keep eating that food, all of those things are only band-aids. If I just stop eating that food, the whole problem is not there to have to deal with in the first place.

You -- like all the rest of us -- can't control someone trying to do you harm, or someone harming you once they have the ability/opportunity to and you can't get away or get away safely. But what you CAN take control over, and can control to a large degree, is how easy it is for people who have harmed you before or are harming you now to do it again. As it stands now, you're making it pretty easy, but you have the power to make it a LOT more difficult so that it's way less likely you will keep being abused or harassed.

[ 06-24-2011, 04:04 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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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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Yes, that all makes sense to me, and I do know what I have to do to continue getting better. And I think I can do it now. I don't know why, but I just feel more resolved. I felt so strong yesterday and today. I can't say what brought this on, but I feel like I could tell him to leave me alone. I don't think I could call him up and initiate it, but the next time he tries to contact me in anyway, I'm going to tell him not to talk to me anymore. Even if I don't tell him the main reason, I'll bring up the treatment he put me through after we broke up and tell him thats why I don't want to speak to him. Hopefully that will be enough and it will be the end of our connection. I feel this way now, and I hope I keep feeling this way. But I think no matter how I'm feeling the next time he contacts me, I'll just have the bite the bullet and tell him.
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Heather
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I'm so glad to hear about how strong you're feeling, and that you're feeling more able to take some control here.

I'd also remember that the how of cutting off someone from the ability to abuse you really isn't that important so long as someone isn't doing themselves harm, doing anyone else harm (like, obviously, killing someone to cut someone off) or putting themselves in more danger.

So, I don't think that you don't have to tell him anything more than "Stop contacting me, period," if you don't feel able to. And if even that winds up feeling too difficult, you can also always do it by unfriending/blocking him on online services and changing your phone number or blocking his. If "stop contacting me," doesn't turn out to be enough, those things would be your next steps.

My internet connection has stunk today, so I'm heading off and giving up for the night. But if you need extra support from me after today, please know I'm glad to give it to you. I hope you also know that everything I have said to you here comes from a place of care and respect, and wanting to equip you as best I know how for a life where you're mostly likely to be safe, happy and healthy.

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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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Djuna
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Hi, LifeEnColor! I just want to say I'm really pleased to hear how strong and resolved you're feeling about this now. That's awesome progress. Go you! [Smile]

Too, while I think waiting for the next time he contacts you to cut him off is just fine, it might be worth considering that if this is something you initiate (either by calling him or just blocking him without talking to him, like Heather described), you would be in control of what's going on. Often when someone calls us we're very suddenly talking to them, and I know I often feel a bit blindsided by that, and less able to shift the conversation to what I want to talk about.

(By the way, consider this an open invitation: if you want support in doing something like cutting him off, I'm happy to check in to the boards at a certain time so you have someone to talk to about how you're feeling as you go.)

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In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I dont know what I am. I dont know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

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LifeEnColor
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Thanks for the support everyone. I understand what you mean about how I'd be more in control if I contacted him first, and I might still do that, but for now I'm just going to wait out and see how it goes.
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LifeEnColor
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Hey, I'm back. I still haven't done it. I still feel resolved, but I don't want to be the one to contact him. He's never on facebook and I really don't want to text/call him. On the bright side, this means he hasn't contacted me. But on the bad side, I'm too chicken to march up and tell him off. Any suggestions? =/
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Heather
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Let's not call yourself chicken, okay? Let's only use positive words for yourself. Name-calling ourselves never leads to anything good.

This is like being at a dance where you're sitting across the room wanting to dance with someone, but you can't get up the gumption to ask. If they come to you, then it might happen. But if not, it's just not going to, and there's really no getting around that.

Do you still feel you need to contact him about this, if he hasn't contacted you? If not, do you still want to?

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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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I think I need to. I want the closure. I want to make sure that he'll never try to contact me again. If I just defriend him or delete his number, he can still text, call, or message me. I don't want to have to keep looking over my shoulder for him. But I just can't work up the nerve to be the one to message him.
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Heather
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Do you have any feeling about what you'd need in order to feel like you could do that?

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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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Thats the thing, I don't know what I'd need. When I see he's online, I keep that window open for a while, kind of baiting him to message me first. But when that doesn't happen and I start trying to convince myself to just do it, I always end up just leaving the website and saying 'maybe tomorrow.' I think part of it might be that I'm already going to be upsetting him with what I'm going to say, I don't wanna have to be the one to initiate it the whole thing. That way, it's almost like 'he came asking for it' by contacting me. I'm really not sure though. =/
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Heather
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Are you someone who tends to do well with deadlines?

In other words, if you gave yourself a hard deadline to do this by, do you think that would make it more likely you would?

What about having someone available who knows you are doing this, and agrees to be there if and when he reacts, to talk you through it?

Or worked a little more on trying to let go of your investment in this person getting upset with you or not? In other words, working some more on accepting that whether or not he gets upset, you need to be able to set healthy, safe boundaries for yourself, and if that upsets someone, that's very clearly THEIR problem and issue, not yours?

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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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breath
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Thanks Heather for writing this really great response. I have definately benefited from this as well.
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