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#56583 - 12/08/03 04:58 PM I want to help. I want to listen
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Hi everyone. I'm brand new here, I've started to post a few times before but not done it. This is all just so much and this site is so incredible, and you guys are so incredible.

My boyfriend of the last 6+ years just disclosed to me about a month ago about the SA he'd suffered through most of his childhood. He is my best friend and the love of my life. We have two children together and he is an incredible father especially when you consider that his home life (even before I knew about the SA) gave him no kind of constructive lessons about how to be a dad. Anyway, he finally disclosed this to me partly because he'd been trying to tell me for some time but partly because I found out that he'd been having an online relationship (which was long over but for some reason he'd saved the letters and I found them). When I confronted him he kind of broke down... at first he wouldn't say anything and then he told me that he needed time to sort things out before we could talk about it. I think that maybe he only ended up disclosing at all because he sensed that I was so frustrated about his silence, and thought I was going to leave him.

I still don't really understand why he thought that he couldn't tell me about the relationship without also telling me about the SA. I know that's why he didn't tell me and I know that it's true for him, and I'm no longer hurt about him not telling me after it was all over. I do think though that if he had worked up the courage to disclose (which he says he was in the process of doing before I found out about the other stuff), that he still wouldn't have told me about the relationship unless I found out. I am trying not to think about that right now.

In a way I am relieved to hear about the SA. Although it makes me feel so guilty to say that. At least I have some idea now, of why this man who is so hardworking, loving and devoted to his children, romantic and ethical, has always felt so bad about himself, found it so hard to communicate. At least he (and we) can start to recover from all of this...

that's what I thought anyway. But now it's been a month and he hasn't told anyone but me, and he doesn't want to talk about it with me or anyone else. He doesn't want to go to therapy. He's telling me he'll look into it after the holidays but I don't believe it. I think that he thinks that telling me is going to be some magic thing that makes him feel better and makes it all go away and maybe that is true for the moment but not forever. He knows me. He has to know that, now that I know, I can't just stand by and let him be ashamed and angry. For the two of us to keep his secret is almost as terrible as for only him to keep it. I feel like to just do nothing would be hurting him too, giving him a message that keeping his secret is OK. But I don't know how hard to push him. I don't want to bring it up all the time. I don't even know all of what happened and I don't want to say the wrong thing. I've told him that I'm not ashamed of him, I'm not going anywhere, I don't blame him for anything, etc, but he's not talking to me or anyone. I've tried a few times and he always says he doesn't want to talk about it. He says I should "just move on with him." What should I do? Should I just back off and give him space? Is he counting on me to push him harder than I've been?

The other thing that I'm scared of is that we are both very young. When our first daughter was born we were still both in high school. I'm 22 and he's 24. I have been trying to learn about SA and its effects over the past few weeks and I keep reading about promiscuous behavior and acting out and all. We were best friends before we were a couple and once we became a couple we were sexually active very quickly. I will be his best friend no matter what, I've told him that and I even told him that when I first found out about his cheating online, before I knew about the SA. But what I haven't told him, and what I am so afraid of, is that our whole relationship has been a result of his abuse, and that maybe he won't want me around if he gets some help.

I'm just not sure what to do. It's been hard for me because I'm trying not to overwhelm him with my feelings. I feel like I haven't stopped crying in as long as I can remember. Thanks for reading

Sar


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#56584 - 12/08/03 05:49 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
You poor thing! Everything is even more complicated because of the kids... All I can tell you is that as a survivor of 3 rapes, I was until recently incapable of understanding that my actions could ever have any impact on another person. I think this is true of many survivors. We are so self-involved because we feel so inconsequential - a part of us has been annhilated by the abuse. We want everyone else to support US, but we are so numbed-out due to dissociation that we don't see that our significant others expect us to act like adults! (There is an old Paul Simon song that talks about how people can't ever say "I love you but like a child are longing to be told.") If your Partner is able to heal, he will eventually get over his blindness. BUT as many here have cautioned ME with respect to my own friend's lack of "progress," you can't heal for someone else. The process is going to continue at its own pace regardless of you, regardless of your love, regardless of your pain. It is truly horrible to live with - as partners, we want to know we can depend on our loved one, that "we get to be the baby sometimes." But it isn't going to happen. We have to love DESPITE all of the self-absorption & the resentment. In your case, it is complicated because of living in the same household & because you have the 2 little ones who depend on BOTH of you. You have made a wonderful decision to reach out to us here online - it might help to get YOURSELF some counseling where the disclosure would be protected by the therapist, but you would be able to at least talk about it... Wow! I feel so sad for you! BIG HUG!

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#56585 - 12/08/03 08:07 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Sar
I've just replied to Caro on another post and said "we aren't easy people to deal with" - which is a sad fact.

I hope you read the topic about Sabotage, it's something that seems very common to us. And we do it because we don't trust - both ourselves or those we 'love'. He probably does love you, but maybe he doesn't have all the right framework for showing it or accepting it ?

Hopefully he's assessing his trusting right now, it might be the reason for his reticence at the moment ? His trust has been ripped out when he was a boy, and even though he might say that he trusts you - and mean it - his level of trust compared to a 'normal' ( whatever that is ;\) ) person will be far lower.
You've shown some trust, more than he expected after you found out about his online affair, and maybe that's thrown him ?

I told my wife about my abuse after 25 years of marriage, and I was prepared to be shown the door.
But she trusted me.

A while later, maybe 12 months, she discovered that I had acted out sexually with male strangers.
I didn't tell her, she found out accidentaly.
I was already heading for the door !
Again, she trusted me.

It took a huge leap of faith for me to return that level of trust, all my life until then people had betrayed me, abused me and treated me badly.
Those that didn't, like my wife, were treated as though they were about to betray me. It was a crappy way to live.
But adjusting to the fact that people trusted me was a huge task, and I often fell back into my old ways sabotaging and making excuses not to trust.

We grew up with distorted and broken boundaries, only we can repair them. But we do need people to test them and reassure us that they are where they should be.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#56586 - 12/08/03 08:22 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Hi Dave!

Once again, you've helped put this into perspective! Would you feel comfortable telling us how you were able to grow into trusting your wife? Did she ever blow up at you? What would she say to the rest of us partners?

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#56587 - 12/09/03 02:03 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Thank you everyone!! You are so kind.

I'm trying to be patient. It's not like I didn't already know that he had trust problems, communication problems, low self-esteem... I just didn't know why. In a way, I feel better about myself knowing that it's not my fault, and that it's not his fault.

But what you said is true kolisha, he can't be the baby. Or, when it's just the two of us talking, I don't mind if that's what he needs, but when it's us and the kids, or him at work, or when I need something, then I do find myself getting aggravated. And for me anyway, a big part of the difference between "being a kid" and "being an adult" was knowing how to ask for help and depend on people. I guess other (normal?) people do that the other way around, they trust as kids and grow more independent. This wasn't something I did or knew how to do as a child. Or it wasn't something I would let myself do, after a while. For me, trust and allowing myself to be dependent on others were a product of growing and of healing. Mostly because my partner has been someone who's helped me do that, because he's been someone I could (or thought I could) trust. But for me, his behavior has just reinforced MY own feelings that everyone is going to let me down. Maybe I'm pushing him because I don't want to fall back into that. I don't want him to let me down. I'm trying to believe that he's not going to. But it is so hard to wait.


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#56588 - 12/09/03 02:17 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Dave, in the other post you were talking about(which has seemed to move away from this topic a little) you said, "she persisted..." how do you do that, without making it worse? How much can you "persist" without just pushing someone too much? And, how important was it for you that she did persist? How much did you need for her to push you, in terms of trust, and how much of it would have come from yourself, no matter what? Or was it just confrontational enough, the idea that she was trusting you?

These are tough questions I know. I'm sorry.


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#56589 - 12/09/03 02:30 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
Caetel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
Thank you SAR for asking these fundamental questions ! I am very anxious to read the answer !

_________________________
Mitakuye oyasin ! We are all related !

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#56590 - 12/09/03 05:34 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
ecb Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 205
SAR,

You say that you're husband has only told you and doesn't want to discuss the matter any further. I can only speak for myself here, but it took me five years from the time I first disclosed my SA to when I ever discussed it with anyone else and finally saw someone about it.

My point is, telling you about it has been a HUGE and probably very scary step for him. It may be some time until he can take the next step, i.e. see someone.

I can't speak for your husband, but for me going to see a counceler felt like a huge defeat. It felt like I was broken and not good enough or strong enough to go through life and needing mental help was proof of it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that he'll talk when he is ready. Let him know that you love him, and are there for him and always will be so that when he IS ready to talk to you he'll feel safe to do so.

I don't know if this has been helpful in any way or not, so take it or leave it as you need. \:\)

Best of luck

Eric


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#56591 - 12/09/03 06:05 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
tschirret Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 20
Hello, I would like to second Sar and K questions re "how does a partner do it?" how to we stick to a clear course? it seems that a few of us are stuck in the same place at the moment.
Thanks, Eric, for participating and reminding us that time is a huge factor here. I understand that, yet at the moment I feel stuck stuck stuck.
It's hard for me (despite my partner's love and desire to get to the bottom of things) not to equate sexual acting out as a reflection on our relationship. I am stuck in logic here (pseudo logic?):
- sexual behavior outside the relationship ==> something is missing in the relationship. The well-known looking out of the relationship, the "my wife does not understand me", the bringing in of a3rd party to change the power balance.
- with someone much younger ==> partner is tired of this older person
- with a man ==> deep down, partner would prefer to be with a man.

So far, the only explanation that my partner has been able to give is: it is linked to SA, and that evening, I was missing you dreadfully. Which, to me, seems to put an enormous weight of responsibility on my shoulders.
If I am not around, then this might happen again?

I just cannot get out of this (vicious?) circle. And I am ashamed to find myself wondering if SA might be used as an excuse.

And when we talk about it (I am the one who broaches the topic), he gets very sad. So I am now hesitant to ask..... I do not want him to feel upset and sad and lost.

How far do we push our partners? how to we make sense of it? I read Sar and K's messages as asking for practical hints, practical pointers. At least, that is where I stand at the moment: give me a book of instructions and I will gladly follow it!

MN


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#56592 - 12/09/03 08:18 PM Re: I want to help. I want to listen
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Sar
I'll reply tommorow, it's late here and I'm off to bed.

Dave ;\)

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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