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#59438 - 12/28/05 11:28 PM Dilemma - Wounds that I can't heal
evanescentjoy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/28/05
Posts: 46
Hello everyone ~ I've been haunting the boards on and off for a while and finally decided to join. I've been impressed by the compassionate, welcoming atmosphere and insightful comments.

My brother is a survivor and I've been in love with someone who I highly suspect to be a survivor for over three years.

My dilemma is this:

My guy (in his early 20's) never disclosed his abuse to me and I base my suspicions on his behavior and various little verbal and physical hints and clues that he has dropped throughout the years. The more that I have researched, read about, and spoken to others about SA, the more convinced I have become that he is a survivor.

Our "friendship" was never just that - other feelings were always present and I would often catch him staring at me from across the way when he thought I wasn't looking... Or he would express his "true" feelings to me in indirect ways, i.e., via playing me certain songs through his headphones. And yet, "friends" was the term he was comfortable with. We continuosly walked a blurry line between friends/lovers, constantly pushing the boundaries back and forth, which led to endless eggshell-walking, anguish and confusion.

We would get closer, only to have him run away without cause or explanation. When he became inexplicably antagonistic and critical towards me, I found myself taking "breaks" from him now and then... Everything was left open and uncommunicated, which left me feeling heartbroken, disoriented and upset that I could do nothing to better understand or help him. It was the most frustrating struggle of my life and yet, I don't regret having been involved with him because I am convinced that he was worth it.

But I could never convince him that he was worth my care, concern and love. He constantly tested me, and it took three years to gain even a minimal amount of trust on his part. It seemed as if there were unwritten rules which I could never properly follow - I was destined to falter, to lose. He once told me I was in his heart and that I had touched him deeply, only to turn around and hurt me again and again.

Finally, our rollercoaster relationship ended with us sleeping together, which confirmed my suspicions when he admitted that he felt "depressed and guilty" after sex. He warned me that he couldn't give me what I want, yet I went ahead with it, anyway.

In the end, I decided to fly away from him - over 8,000 miles to be exact - in order to preserve what was left of my heart and sanity. I didn't say that it was him that had caused me to leave - and it wasn't really just him. I had become clinically depressed and was far away from home, alone.

After sleeping together, he became withdrawn, strange, fearful, antagonistic and deliberately hurtful...

And yet, the night I left, he called me to tell me that he knew that we would see each other again, that he was planning to come to the States someday and told me firmly but not unkindly, "Think more about yourself."

Before leaving, I left him a necklace that is very precious to me - a mustard seed necklace coming from a Biblical parable that tells the story of the smallest faith that grows into something unexpectedly large - He refused to take it, saying that he didn't deserve it. I fought that painful blow and forced out the words, "You ARE worth it" before leaving the room he was in and watched the sarcastic smile half melt away from his face.

That was four months ago. Since then, I've sent him 3-4 emails, with no response.

My question is this:

I've written him a letter indicating (although not stating out right) that I know about his abuse... In it, I tell him about someone (my brother, although unstated) who I grew up caring for and admiring very much and how finding out about this person's abuse didn't change the way I felt about him at all.

I go on to say that, although I don't know what has happened to my guy, I know that it wasn't his fault, even if he thinks it is and that no matter what it is, it could never change the way I feel about him, regardless of how terrible he perceives that thing to be and that I'll always be there for him.

I know that I need to answer my own question - Should I send it to him or not? And yet, I would very much appreciate your input and the sharing of your experiences.

This time of year is especially painful for me because at this time last year, he was good to me and things were going wonderfully. He helped me when I injured myself and looked after me, was kind to and tender with me... And yet, it all came crashing down again in a few short weeks... He began pushing me away again with all his might, leaving me confused and devastated.

I miss him a lot and just can't seem to let go although everyone insists that it's time for me to move on. I only wish that he could someday see that he is a treasure and that he would begin to heal from his deep wounds.

Thank you very much for listening. I find great comfort in knowing that I am not alone... And wish he would realize the same.

_________________________
"Become who you are." -Nietzsche

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#59439 - 12/29/05 12:24 AM Re: Dilemma - Wounds that I can't heal
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Joy,

What a question! I am a hopeless romantic in a way, so I would say take the risk and send the letter. Everything worth having in the world involves risk and this case is no different.

That said, there is only so much you can do from the distance of 8000 miles. A survivor will often be a guy who just doesn't believe in himself anymore; that being the case, how can he believe in others or accept their affection or love? He often will be full of guilt and shame and be unable to trust himself, much less others. As his childhood trust resulted in catastrophic harm, trust now doesn't seem to have a lot going for it. Unless the person who wishes to help him get over this is actually around to be in contact with him and be there for him, it's difficult to see how she can help him break out of this cycle of isolation and low self-esteem.

But that's further on down the road. For now, I would send the letter and see how he reacts.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#59440 - 12/29/05 04:11 AM Re: Dilemma - Wounds that I can't heal
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Hi EJ,

I would echo Larry's comment-- there is only so much you can do-- from miles away or from right next to him.

I would also think carefully about what you're looking for by doing this-- how you'll feel and what you'll do if he doesn't respond-- what you expect to gain or lose by continuing to have contact with him.

There have been some very insightful posts in the past about the topic of whether to confront a friend with your suspicion that he is a survivor. Personally I think I would react badly to someone approaching me in this way. You don't have to read far on these forums to see the fear and shame of those who are *voluntarily* disclosing for the first time-- to people they've carefully chosen, in situations they set up and control-- how much more emotionally difficult must it be to have a closely guarded secret torn away from you, without any say over how it happens?

Why not send a letter affirming his worth, and your feelings, letting him know that you'll be ready to listen to him when he's ready to talk to you?

What are you doing to think more of yourself these days? How are you getting on with the rest of your life?

SAR


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#59441 - 12/29/05 04:31 AM Re: Dilemma - Wounds that I can't heal
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Joy,

SAR's comment jostles me into a rethink. I myself would not be offended or traumatized by a letter saying you have scoped me out as a survivor. In fact, I think I would be relieved if I were as close to you as your beau clearly is.

But that's me! I don't know ANYTHING about how someone else would react. And SAR is so right - as usual. For many guys such a letter could result in a lot of emotional distress and trauma.

I like SAR's suggestion:

Quote:
Why not send a letter affirming his worth, and your feelings, letting him know that you'll be ready to listen to him when he's ready to talk to you?
I would just add that maybe you could find a way to say in the letter that you are prepared to listen to him and support him no matter what the problem is. That way he would have some idea that you have considered the possibility that his problem is something really huge for him.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#59442 - 12/29/05 08:13 AM Re: Dilemma - Wounds that I can't heal
evanescentjoy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/28/05
Posts: 46
Larry and SAR,

Thank you very much for your replies - I can't tell you how good it is to have someone with "inside knowledge" to pose questions to. I too often find myself so deeply absorbed in my own thoughts and feelings that I often can't fully see how things that I say and do may affect him (as is true of survivors, too, I imagine).

The trouble is that I have already done the following three (stupid?) things:

1) sent him 2 links to general sites regarding dysfuctional/alcoholic families

2) sent him an email regarding the fact that he didn't see me off at the airport, which I heard through a mutual friend that he felt guilty about and expected me to be angry with him. (which I wasn't - only hurt, although I never showed it or said anything about it)

I wrote him a long message reassuring him that I wasn't angry with him, as he thought, but that I was angry with... And went on to list the various things that had hurt him and caused him to build walls, not trust, etc (without explicitly stating what it was that caused this to occur) "I'm angry that you and I were born in a cruel world that abandons its children... I'm angry that, instead of being loved, you were controlled, manipulated, and suffocated..." etc. and ended by saying, "I'm angry because I can't be angry with you because you and I are the same, and I'm angry because I can only change myself."

3) sent a brief email telling him that I was doing as he had said - thinking more about myself: exercising everyday, quit smoking (which he hates due to childhood issues), going to a psychologist, taking antidepressants, etc... And concluded by saying that I understand that his life has not been easy, but that God is helping me more than anything else and that I know that He will help him heal his wounds.

Quote:
I would also think carefully about what you're looking for by doing this-- how you'll feel and what you'll do if he doesn't respond-- what you expect to gain or lose by continuing to have contact with him.
A very good point and, as my reason is often clouded by my emotions, this is something that I have not always carefully considered.

At this point, I feel that I really have nothing to lose. Before I left, he told me I was "doing the right thing." And yet, I don't understand why he has never contacted me, this time, as we've been far apart geographically in the past and only THEN has he admitted to missing me. This time has been different - He hasn't said or done a single thing.

Of course it hurts me that he doesn't respond. But I love him and I want to reassure him that he's not alone, even if he never responds. I can honestly say that at this point, I hope for the best (whatever that may be) and yet, expect nothing. I've given it up to a higher power, for the most part. It's not up to me.

Maybe I just have to accept that I've done what I could, even if it seems not enough or in vain, and it's time to just let go.

And yet, he is the only one I've ever felt a sense of belonging and a sense of deep understanding with. I can't explain it - it was just an underlying and unspoken current, with us, as we both had abandonment issues. He's the only person I've loved with whom I no longer felt alone. I'm used to feeling lonely in relationships, but with him, it was different, although we weren't ever really official.

Quote:
how much more emotionally difficult must it be to have a closely guarded secret torn away from you, without any say over how it happens?
This is a very valid point and one that deserves a lot of consideration. It seems particularly bad considering the control issues that survivors have. Thanks for bringing this up.

Quote:
Why not send a letter affirming his worth, and your feelings, letting him know that you'll be ready to listen to him when he's ready to talk to you?
This is a solid suggestion. I delivered him such a letter in person last Valentine's Day, after we had one of our typical breakdowns in communication... And yet, perhaps it wouldn't hurt to reaffirm this, one last time, with Larry's added touch - telling him that I am prepared to listen to him and support him no matter what the problem is.

But there is still an ocean between us. And yet, I've crossed that ocean for love before and would do it again if my heart told me to. If he would have been ready for me, I would have been there. I guess it just wasn't time, or it's not me who is meant to aid in his healing and recovery, or...

*sigh* Thank you.

_________________________
"Become who you are." -Nietzsche

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#59443 - 12/29/05 03:25 PM Re: Dilemma - Wounds that I can't heal
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Joy,

I guess I would just come back to the fact that your messages basically relate all the many loving things you are prepared to do for him, despite the obstacles.

But what do you want and need in return? What are your limits and where are your boundaries? Until you can be clear to yourself about this you will be more or less subserviant as a person to his own needs and issues. To me that sort of imbalance isn't a good foundation for any sort of real relationship. Rather, it sets you up to be taken advantage of as part of the dynamic upon which the relationship is based from the start.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

Top
#59444 - 12/29/05 05:41 PM Re: Dilemma - Wounds that I can't heal
evanescentjoy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/28/05
Posts: 46
Quote:
But what do you want and need in return? What are your limits and where are your boundaries? Until you can be clear to yourself about this you will be more or less subserviant as a person to his own needs and issues
This is something I have struggled with continually. I think that my inability to voice my needs and boundaries contributed to the problem. But wasn't my leaving vocal enough? It was like saying, "No, I won't agree to be your 'friend' with occasional benefits, if you can't give me what I want, I'm taking care of myself now, goodbye".

At this point, I almost feel like sending him a "farewell" message stating that life is too short for spending time and concern on someone who doesn't care about himself, let alone me. But that almost seems manipulative, on my part - and he's been manipulated enough in the past.

_________________________
"Become who you are." -Nietzsche

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#59445 - 12/29/05 06:20 PM Re: Dilemma - Wounds that I can't heal
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Quote:
I almost feel like sending him a "farewell" message stating that life is too short for spending time and concern on someone who doesn't care about himself, let alone me. But that almost seems manipulative, on my part
It is manipulative if you don't mean it.

It is not manipulative to say (and I mean "say"-- don't do things that are "like saying") "This what I need from our relationship. If you cannot do these things I will discontinue the relationship."

So what are you doing to take care of yourself and think less of him?


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#59446 - 12/29/05 06:56 PM Re: Dilemma - Wounds that I can't heal
evanescentjoy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/28/05
Posts: 46
Quote:
It is manipulative if you don't mean it.
I definitely mean it, although it will hurt very much to say it and do it. Most likely, he will try to manipulate me by responding with something like, "I miss you." This time, I guess my response should be, "I don't believe you. Prove that you mean it."

Quote:
So what are you doing to take care of yourself and think less of him?
1.Moved back to the States
2.Repairing relationships with family
3.Taking antidepressants
4.Seeing a therapist re: my own stuff
5.Exercising every day
6.Contemplating my next step in life
7.Readying myself to move forward and launch into the next phase

Many dreams were shattered in recent times and it will take some time for me to recover. I've tried not to think much about him - Mostly by numbing out my feelings. Too much loss to deal with, at present...

_________________________
"Become who you are." -Nietzsche

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#59447 - 12/30/05 12:13 AM Re: Dilemma - Wounds that I can't heal
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Joy
I think they you're damned if you do - and damned if you don't, it's a tough choice.

But if you do and it all goes wrong then there's always a chance to sort things out, if you don't you'll never know.

If you've read the many posts here about being a partner or friend of a survivor you'll know that you can't possibly do our healing for us, and we don't seem to react positivly to being dragged into healing either. It's something we have to choose to do, and then make the efforts to go through with it.

But having said that, sometimes survivors are kickstarted into action by outside events and influences, sometimes we do need 'something' to show us that we have actually been abused. I thought that what happened to me as a boy was something that I wanted to happen, I thought that for over 30 years!

What we do love though is good and honest support, someone to walk alongside us, not lead or chase us.
Offer him that, make it obvious if you have to because very often survivors don't trust anyone ( especially ourselves ) so any offers of help and support are treated with great suspicion.
It's not an easy ride supporting a survivor, but if he's worth it then go for it !

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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