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#66153 - 05/13/03 04:08 AM emotional wounds (long)
stpbb Offline

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 103
I could use some support &/or advice regarding my relationship with my bf. We have been involved for about 3 years & during that time, through some fairly traumatic events, he came to the realization that he had been sexually abused as a child.

This realization came after an attempt (failed fortunately) at suicide when I became his primary caretaker, got him into a therapist, & stood “watch” until his family came back from their vacations. The stress on the relationship was pretty severe (it isn’t easy to be caretaker & lover at the same time, so I chose caretaker & backed off from romantic involvement for that time). I would have loved not to have taken on that role, but given the alternatives & his family’s refusal to consider hospitalization, there wasn’t really any other option – he was severely ill with depression.

In the process of these issues, we have been on & off in the relationship - and he has wavered from total devotion & love to total disregard & disrespect toward me.

We are both in therapy - separately - and he has made some progress toward healing, but is still struggling without clear memories of the abuse, conflicted relationships and mood swings and anxiety.

So, the problem now is that I don’t want to abandon him but have real problems with my own emotional reaction to dealing with the man I love telling me one week that he loves me & the next that I am Ms. Right Now, not Ms. Right.

We just had a conversation about setting some limits when he needs to withdraw so that he can do so without hurting me in the process & he was very reluctant to even try to find a solution. The actual problem is that he tends to disappear when someone has a problem with him & therefore abandons me completely just when I am really feeling hurt & upset by something. Neither of us could think of an easy solution to this & the ideas I did find he thought wouldn’t work because he can’t deal with being “obligated” to respond in a certain way (I said maybe if he could bring himself to do some ‘active listening’ responses so I could feel heard and maybe even an apology – “I’m sorry I can’t deal with this right now, I hear that your are upset” etc). I suggested a meeting together with his therapist to help with the process & he said that he is dealing with many other issues, not the relationship, because he thinks the core is deeper & the ups & downs of the relationship are not the real issue. He then explained to me that he really doesn’t love me or see any future with me, & therefore the request for addressing my feelings within the relationship was out of line (two weeks ago we spent a lot of time together & he was in love). He said that he knows he wavers, but if I want the honest truth, he just doesn’t think that true love would turn off & on like his feelings for me do & therefore it was a “shallow” love that he feels when he feels it.

I told him that if that was truly the case then I’d have to move on in my life – pretty obvious, right? You’re in a relationship with a man who doesn’t love you, has no plans for a future together, and no wish to respect your feelings.

As soon as I got to that point, he backed off & started talking about how he probably isn’t the best judge & maybe I’m right about his issues getting in the way of his making the best decisions regarding his relationships, and that really it should be up to me to find the best course of action (my take has been what we talked about some time ago, which is that one may really not feel loving, loved or in love when they can’t love themselves & that addressing issues of trust, guilt, self hatred, etc. would help him find out what he wants long-term. He requested at that time that we quit trying to define the relationship, but just take things as they come & I felt good about that)

So, I asked him again to see if he can come up with a way to respect my feelings, that the real issue I wanted to address was some ways not to get slaughtered emotionally while he deals with his stuff & we left things like that – that I didn’t really want to have a conversation about the future of the relationship, just about protecting my feelings. Does anyone have any thoughts? Do I have to walk away completely to protect myself?

I have not felt that his situation or his emotional volatility was unreasonable given the severity of his depression and the recent realization about the abuse. I have tried to be supportive and have managed to create a certain balance in my life that did not require me to shut him out completely, but I wonder if I am being a total sucker to continue to keep him as a part of my life and offer my support given his attitude toward me. My friends are now pretty much 100% in favor of me ending things and never speaking to him again, but they are not familiar with SA issues & recovery, so they just see his behavior as erratic & think that at his age (mid-40s) he is the way he is and will never change.

I’m at a loss. I’d like to find a way to be with him & protect myself at the same time. I feel like we both have found a number of coping skills to bypass some of the issues we used to have, but the latest conversation creates another roadblock. I have a full life with work & friends & hobbies & really enjoy spending time with my bf, but don’t have a ‘need’ for him in my life. I’m with him because I like him & love him & although it doesn’t come across in this post, I feel very comfortable with him overall – but I don’t think my caring includes being emotionally wounded every time he cycles around again. I have some other issues as well from our earlier history that I won’t elaborate on here, but suffice to say that we both have been through some intense and difficult times together.

Sorry for the long post. Any ideas or thoughts would be welcome.


#66154 - 05/13/03 05:34 AM Re: emotional wounds (long)
doctorfrau Offline

Registered: 04/11/03
Posts: 60
Loc: West Virginia (NOT western Vir...

I'm sorry that I can't offer you any concrete advice, since I am dealing with this type of area myself...though admittedly on a very much smaller scale.

But I did want to tell you that I empathise, I understand your concerns and they are very valid ones. The tone of consensus on other posts here seems to be that ultimately you have to look out for yourself. If you draw a line in the sand, will he come around or walk? So maybe the hard question is... are you willing to devote the rest of your life to a man who may not be capable of loving you back? If I remember correctly, the standard question "Dear Abby" used was "Ultimately, are you a better person with him, or without him?"

It's a tough question - one that I haven't been able to answer yet either.


"...your choice, is what to DO with the time that you are given."

#66155 - 05/13/03 02:04 PM Re: emotional wounds (long)
James_dup1 Offline

Registered: 04/13/02
Posts: 1332
Loc: Wyoming

That post could have been made by my wife. In the 17 years we have been married I have cheated, left her for another man, and have even told her I hate her. Im one of the lucky ones she is still with me. Dealing with SA is the hardest thing I have ever done. The only advice I know to give you is set boundry's and stick to them. If he crosses them let him know, in a loving way. If he keeps crossing them then you need to decide if thats the type of person you truely want to have as a lover/friend. From your post it sounds like you know about SA and the effects it has on a person. Just know that most of us have no idea what boundry's are and when they are set we get confussed or angry at them. It took 16 years before I told my wife about my SA, and now with the help of a good "t" I can see where the boundry's need to be and I "try" (somedays better than others) not to cross them. But, just remember IT'S NOT YOUR JOB TO FIX HIM. That is his job. You have to do what is best for you and your emotional well being. I hope this helps a little. I like to ramble sometimes. lol. Good luck.

I have more issues than Rolling Stone!

#66156 - 05/13/03 02:14 PM Re: emotional wounds (long)
SandyW Offline

Registered: 02/25/03
Posts: 86
Loc: NJ
My husband and I go through this too...the emotional push and pull. Remember the game Red Light, Green Light 1-2-3? I would have to say its common with anyone with any past issues, including SA. He likely has no idea what love really is or should be. Love is not an emotion, but a state of being, or a way of life. He seems to be investing too much of his current emotional state into what he thinks should be love. Think about it, you could be angry, disappointed or frustrated with your kids. Does that mean that you fall out of love them that day? I could be hurt by and angry with my husband. Does that mean that I stop loving him when I'm hurt? I agree that he has to start loving himself before he can love someone else, but he has to get a clear grip on what love is before he can even do that. He needs to realize that love doesn't hinge on emotions that change like the wind.

Does anyone have any thoughts? Do I have to walk away completely to protect myself?
Then answers to these questions can only come from within. Does he fit into your life plan? Can you accept him for who he is, unconditionally?


#66157 - 05/13/03 03:58 PM Re: emotional wounds (long)
PAS Offline

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Hi - I totally emphasize with your situation because I am in the same one.. my BF is also a SA survivor and sometimes also resorts to the "you're not ms. right you're ms. right now".. man he has really attacked and wounded me many times... its been a rough ride sometimes!

for what it'ss worth - I have decided to stay with my bf for two reasons: 1) he is putting an ENORMOUS amount of time and energy into his healing. He is going to group therapy, we have been to individual therapy, he studies spirituality, practices daily meditation/journalling, and is also prosecuting his perp. and 2) no matter what crap comes out of his mouth he has been very faithful and committed to me (which matches his past history with his exes - he never cheated or lied and was totally faithful till the end even if they weren't)

I have based my decision on the fact that with all this work things cannot help but get better in the future. They are fantastic some of the time now and fairly good most of the time - when we get along we REALLY get along. When things are going crappy though I have seen glimmers that his therapy is just starting to take hold (not all of the time but once in awhile) He is working so hard at getting better that things cannot but improve in the future.

Thats just my two cents worth but I can be sure that if my BF was wallowing in his pain and not doing anything about it or continuing to drink/use drugs to forget about things (he is a recovering alcoholic and was a heavy pot user when we first met) and continually resorting to taking his emotions all out on me and balking at therapy, I'd probably have walked by now.

I can't remember in your post if your BF is in therapy? Is he working on dealing with his issues? Does he appear motivated to work on himself and improve his situation and his relationship with you? Those may be key bits of info. to help you make your decision.

#66158 - 05/13/03 04:05 PM Re: emotional wounds (long)
PAS Offline

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
One thing I forgot - the first thing your friend has to get under control is his depression. I speak from experience - I have suffered clinical depression off and on since 1987 and I can tell you that it is not just a disease of feeling sad - it is a cognitive disorder that literally scrambles your perceptions of life and yourself.
It makes it difficult if not impossible to have mature adult love relationships with a depressed person.

You have to remember when things seem realy out of control with him and you that you are dealing with someone who is mentally ill - he is not always fully in control of his thoughts and emotions. He may also not be in a position where he could make a decision about his own health. It is very correct to say that he needs to be taken care of (i have been there).

I can't emphazise enough that he get to see a psychiatrist ASAP. Depression is a very serious disease and has a high fatality rate (from suicide). Please try to get him to take it seriously. Hopefully he's not drinking at the same time - alcohol and drug consumption is a bad combination with depression. It blocks the feelings for awhile but then when the effect wears off moods and cognitive abilities just get worse.

I have grown up in a household with a depressed father - it can be a very big drain on everyone involved and I can attest that it can be potentially fatal!!!!!!! My father has attempted suicide 3 times so far!!! Please try to encourage your BF's family that he needs immediate medical help!

#66159 - 05/14/03 01:12 AM Re: emotional wounds (long)
stpbb Offline

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 103
Thanks for all of your replies. It has been a hard couple of days & it has been really helpful to read all of your opinions.

I think that many of the other posts that are posted in the family and friends forum today are hitting on the same topic. I am wondering if it is worth it, if it is possible for the relationship to survive such extremes and whether it is good for either of us to maintain the connection.

My bf is currently in therapy, has received treatment for the depression (thanks PAS, he is getting treatment -- but it is nice to see my own attitute validated by your response -- why the h*** could't his family see he had a life-threatening illness?! they didn't even come home early to look after him!?!) , but suffers from chronic ongoing mood problems. He has had depression for many years and doesn’t tolerate medication well (though he did take it when he was extremely bad -- & isn’t opposed to the idea, just has many problems with side effects). He is not an alcoholic, is pursuing his own healing through therapy and through his own life changes. He is working on most different aspects of his life, but not this relationship. So that is what is also making me question what I should do, since the progress and changes are coming & infiltrate the relationship as he helps himself, but the efforts are not directed toward making any progress in the issues and problems of the relationship.

So in practical terms, has anyone found a technique, method, process, idea or anything else as a couple, survivor or partner, that helped with the withdrawal/abandonment/in love/out of love/constantly changing emotional context of the relationship? I think if I could reach a reasonable agreement with him about a way to keep from getting emotionally slaughtered each time he swings away, then I would hang in there with him. Unfortunately, it feels like abuse & I need to find a way to protect myself. When I think of our conversation where he explained to me that he isn’t in love with me it is truly awful, hurtful and I am still reeling from those words. It is little comfort right now to know that it is probably temporary and will change again, because I know that it also will change again after that. To those of you who have experienced the pendulum swinging of emotions, how do you deal with it? Does it get better through recovery?


#66160 - 05/14/03 04:55 PM Re: emotional wounds (long)
teimosa Offline

Registered: 04/07/03
Posts: 33
Loc: LA

I don't know if anything that I will say will help, but here it goes anyway.

My BF is very committed to me and loves me very much, but he struggles with the idea that he has to become emotionally vulnerable in order to have the kind of relationship that he wants to have with me. When I try to establish boundaries (usually it is about the idea of me getting of the phone with you might have already read, we live 3,000 miles away from each other) he tends to become very detached and passive aggressive. In fact, he told me last night that he would prefer not to speak to me on the phone at all , but simply write to me....through letters. I took exception to this becuase I felt that the only reason that he was saying this was becuase he couldn't get his way with me and because I have already written him twice and he has yet to write me back and becuase he knows that I wrote to him again last week and he has not, in my estimation, been particularly diligent about checking his mailbox. This doesn't include little packages that I send to him or things that I see, order for him and have shipped to him. Right now as we speak, I have two huge boxes in my computer and monitor that I am shipping to him so that he can use them for e-mail and for a possilbe online therapy situation.

I don't know if this type of behavior is typical of SA survivors, but he tends to operate in extremes. It's almost like there is no middle ground. Either he is super duper loving and affectionate and communicative, or he is extremely withdrawn. He doens't tell me that he deosn't love me or doesn't want to be with me, he flips the>
Peace and and light


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