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Author Topic: Nightmares 2 years later...
AllIsFullOfLove
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Hi everyone. I'm new here on the forums, but I've been a big fan of Scarleteen's useful site for a few years now. I decided I wanted to join the forums because everyone seems really nice and helpful. =]

So here's the deal. My junior year in highschool I started dating my first boyfriend. He seemed very nice at first, and I thought he was cool because he was the "smartest" kid in the school - i.e. he had the highest GPA.
Unfortunately for me, he wasn't modest about it. He was constantly correcting me over my shoulder on everything from homework to the way I spoke. After a while it became clear that he thought he was better than me because he was smarter, and the longer I dated him the worse he put me down. Overall his comments weren't as bad as they could have been, but to this day I still feel like crap because he was accepted to this fancy college and I'm going to community college.

What was worse than his comments about my brain was that he really didn't care what I had to say when it came to physical decisions. After a couple months I was ok with kissing him, but it seemed like all he wanted to do was get off. I'd never had a boyfriend before, and for some reason I felt like I shouldn't say no to his requests because he got upset when I did. It got to the point where I would sit quietly and kiss him while he masturbated until he orgasmed just so he would stop bothering me about it. It made me feel dirty and used, and I told him so, but it didn't make much of a difference. I don't know why it took me so long to break up with him, but I finally did 9 months later after a couple hours at his house one afternoon. Long story short, he wanted to go "further," I didn't, he laid down on top of me and wouldn't move so I had to push and kick him off me because he wasn't listening when I said "stop."

I still have nightmares about this guy two years and two boyfriends later, and I can't stand them. I don't understand why I'm having these nightmares when I have a wonderful boyfriend who is respectful, funny, and wonderful to hang out with.

I thought my feelings would fade after a while, but my stomach still drops when I see silly things like a blue car (he used to drive a blue car), or anything else that reminds me of him. Plus sometimes my current boyfriend cracks jokes about this ex (about how uptight he is about school). I don't think my boyfriend knows I once dated this person, and I don't know how to let him know that bringing my ex's name up makes me sick. =[ Will these nightmares ever go away? I wasn't raped or anything awful like that, so HOW CAN I JUST FORGET ABOUT IT AND MOVE ON?

Thanks everyone for your time, I'd really appreciate any help or comments.. Sorry that was so long.

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♥All is full of love♥
♥You have to trust it♥

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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I hear you describing a relationship with this person which involved emotional, verbal and sexual abuses (if I am understanding correctly that he did not allow you to say no to sexual activities).

Does that sound right to you?

--------------------
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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AllIsFullOfLove
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I guess... I mean, I sort of gave up asking him to stop after a while, so I don't know if that really counts as "abuse" if I didn't like it but didn't say anything. When I got mad at him after that one time after I pushed him off he pointed out all the times I didn't say anything, and I feel guilty for leading him on like that and saying "stop" out of nowhere. So I guess I would say yes, I didn't feel like I could say no because he just ignored it anyway the times that I did say it. After a while though I just stopped saying no, grinned, and spoke as little as possible until he was done doing whatever he felt like.

The same goes for when he said mean things to me.

[ 08-14-2011, 11:06 PM: Message edited by: AllIsFullOfLove ]

--------------------
♥All is full of love♥
♥You have to trust it♥

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Heather
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The dynamic you're describing is very typical of people in ongoing abuse. having been through it, you can probably see why, but I'll go ahead and explain a litle, just in case.

Abuse wears down a person's self-worth, in a nutshell. People who abuse devalue the person they're abusing as a pattern, and often, it works. The person being abused feels of less and less value, feels less and less able to stand up for themselves, is easier and easier for the abusive person to control, which is what that person wants. In other words, finding yourself in that space is basically evidence that the abusive person has been effective. [Frown]

This is also one of the things that can make leaving abuse so challenging for people: the more and more worn down a person feels, the less able they feel to stand up for themselves, and the more they tend to become convinced that it's pointless (or, like you're doing in some places here, learn to diminish it, feeling like it "shouldn't be a big deal."). This is one of those things where when people say, "Why don't they just leave?" they are usually missing. Someone who still felt strong and valuable and had the ability to leave probably would. But abuse has serious impacts on people, especially the more and more it goes on over time.

Make sense?

So, from what I can gather, you were in an abusive relationship and, as it tends to for most people, it had a deep impact on you. As well, probably like most people, you're going to need some help processing all of this, and healing from all of this so that you can move forward. When we go through trauma, time alone doesn't tend to result in healing. Would that it did, but it just doesn't usually work that way. same goes for having a new relationship with someone who isn't abusive: that can't magically "fix" us, either.

Have you ever sought out any kind of qualified help with this, like with a counselor who has worked with people in abusive or otherwise unhealthy relationships?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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AllIsFullOfLove
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Well, I've been seeing the same counselor for years, and when I was going through this we talked about it a lot. I haven't seen her since the nightmares started a few months ago, but last week I made an appointment for tomorrow.

I never had expectations that having other relationships would necessarily help me forget about this person, but I just think it's weird that I'm so happy during the day most of the time, and then my brain brings these things back up at night.

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Heather
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Sorry to have been AWOL yesterday afternoon.

I don't think it's weird. Night terrors and panics are a very typical post-traumatic stress symptom. Did your counselor ever talk to you about PTSD and what it could mean for you during your life after that relationship?

Mind, if she didn't, it may have simply been because that's not a space you were in at the time, so that may be a conversation she has with you now. It's great you have someone you can see!

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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AllIsFullOfLove
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Don't worry about it. [Smile]

I talked with my therapist today, and she said she also wasn't surprised I was having these nightmares, especially since I had to sit next to this kid for an hour or two during our graduation ceremony(I didn't mention that in my main post, since I didn't think it was too important... But that's the way the graduation seating chart worked out.)

She hasn't said anything about PTSD, but she did recommended I come in so she can try something called EMDR, which I've done with her before a long time ago. The appointment's relatively soon, so hopefully it will help at least a little.

[ 08-16-2011, 01:28 PM: Message edited by: AllIsFullOfLove ]

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Heather
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Oh, that really really sucks. I'm so sorry something so important got sullied by something so awful. [Frown]

EMDR has been used often with PTSD, so if that's worked for you before, chances are good that could be a help now. If you want some more info on that, this looks to be a decent summary: http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/EMDR_PTSD.htm

She may have even chosen that therapy because of PTSD, so by all means, I'd ask her about post-traumatic stress. I think you'd be helped by having more information about it, period.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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AllIsFullOfLove
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That's ok. In a small way it sort of helped me a little. We hadn't been talking for about a year at that point, but I had seen him every day in class, and I wanted at least a little closure. When I was sitting next to him at graduation I said, "Congratulations, [X], on being valedictorian." He didn't say anything back, but that wasn't the point. I wanted to leave high school knowing that I'd closed my part of the relationship officially and at least a little respectfully. Afterwards my counselor told me it was a good idea for me to have done that. Anyway, it let me forget about him for the rest of the day.

And thank you for the link. I'll ask her about PTSD the next time we talk, hopefully she can give me some insight. [Smile]

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