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#63441 - 10/03/02 04:35 PM please help
soccer Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 43
Hi all...

despite my rather optimistic outlook on the future of my relationship with my SA survivor boyfriend, I have been dealt with some major heavy news that I am having a hard time with.

Quick recap for those who dont know my story - I'm 32 my BF is 33. Neither of us have been married. He was abused at age 17 by a teacher during at time when he felt unheard, unloved, unsupported by his parents (they meant well, but have their own issues - adult children of alcoholics, lots of "secret" keeping expected, expected to conform to rigid religious (catholic) and behavioural standards (i.e. "you're not allowed to be angry in my house - get a better attitude, etc" instead of allowing him to be "himself).

My BF has never really been able to secure a good relationship. He's had a history of alcohol and drug abuse until this year.

We are old friends - each others' best friends from childhood. We connected last year and up until this point, I thought the relationship was going well. With all the hints he was dropping, I thought that engagement was imminent. I know that most guys, SA or not, do have issues with commitment/marriage, but I thought, from all I'd heard from him, that this would not be a problem. He reassured me he really wants to get married, etc. etc. and even went as far as to drop major hints that "well within a year of dating I think I'd be comfortable being engaged", etc. etc. We even looked at a few houses/apartments together that we might want to share.

As an "older" dater who's been around the block a few times (been in 2 serious relationships both of which I thought were headed towards marriage, but didn't). I've got a good, stable, career-oriented job. I've finished grad. school. My biological clock is ticking. I really want to get married and it is a good time in my life to do so. I thought that this relationship seemed to be heading that way.

We have had some problems in my relationship, that's pretty obvious. We have had some major fights, and they do get pretty nasty. Obviously as a SA survivor he has the "usual suspects" to deal with (insecurity, mistrust, self esteem issues, etc), but he has been dealing with these for a long time (in therapy since about 1995). In fact, he has filed a case against his SA perp. - just finished off all the paperwork and submitted it during the past few weeks. I also have my issues as I was raised in an alcoholic/depressive/suicidal home and have had some really horrible dating experiences. I didnt think that what we were going through was any different than many others, and was certainly to be expected by people with our backgrounds. We even have committed to going to therapy to improve how we relate to each other and how we can identify when our "baggage is getting in the way" (this was HIS idea).

A major bomb was dropped on me in couple therapy this week. I learned that my BF was really only "telling me what I wanted to hear" by saying that he was thinking of an engagement after our one year anniversary (which was last month) and that he really has no clue when he will be comfortable with marriage. He has some really bad images of what being married entails "that it involves sacrifice - it requires denying my needs and letting someone else's take precedence" (his words).

What is most bizarre, is that despite this attitude, he indicates that he DOES want to get married someday, he DOES love me, and that he really does think I'm "the one". He is even going to counselling to deal with all his SA issues as well as issues with us, but he is not sure how it will all work out. He keeps trying to reassure me but I am no longer comforted by his words. This is really causing problems for me in the relationship - he just seems like such a big risk now, especially in relation to what I've been through with other guys.

Although I love my BF more than I've loved any other man, I am just not intersted in sticking with yet another man who I support while he wrestles with his ideas about himself, his self esteem, marriage, etc., being patient and winding up being dumped when they realize that "i'm not the one" for them. This has happened to me twice, and I hate to admit it, I am not totally over it.

I respect the fact that the SA has had an effect on how he views all of this. But, I have had my own abuse issues too - some pretty severe ones too (everything BUT SA - some pretty gory things including resucing my father from a drug overdose last year, some pretty severe verbal abuse, attempted date-rape victim, etc.) yet I remain optimistic that with the right partner, the right attitude, strength, perserverence and determination, that I can forge a better relationship with someone than I've been shown. I believe that my past will does NOT have to be a template for the future. I also acknowledge that marriage is partially a "leap of faith" and until now, I thought my BF was a "good bet". I just dont understand why he takes such a pessimistic approach towards marriage (does SA have to do with it?), and I take such a positive one. I mean, we both have abuse histories, and I dont think either one was more traumatic than the other (mine was violent/verbal, his was sexual).

I guess, maybe someone here could provide some insight on whether or not I even have any hope for this relationship working out. Are there some positive signs here? Shoudl I give up all hope? I am really worried about what might happen to the relationship because we are now so out of sync - me wanting to get married and him being so non-committal... I just am so confused and feel so much less enthusiasm for a future with him right now.

I dont know what else I can do to reassure him that I'll not hurt him or abuse him like the people in his past. I try to do so much for him - give him space when he's feeling blue and down and let him do his own thing, I let him use my car any time he needs it, no questions or arguments, when he is down and depressed about memories of his SA, he feels safe enough to cry on my shoulder. I rub his back at night when he cant sleep (he was abused in bed, trying to fall asleep). He has told me that he trusts me and feels safer with me than with anyone he knows, but it just feels like whatever I do for him it will never be enough, and that our relationship is falling apart because he just can't see past his pain to recognize what I do for him and woudl be prepared to do for him as long as he needs it (trust me his needs are NOTHING in comparison to what my father demanded from me my whole life).

I just wish he could look beyond himself and his pain and his needs to see what we have and how good it is and how much I love him and how much I want to support him. At the present time he's so mired in his pain, and then when he sees how afraid I have become lately about our future, he starts with the whole "I feel horrible because I can't please you" routine.

I dont know if this is better posted on another relationship site, but I figured this might be a good place to start, since SA definitely does have something to do with what's going on.

I would really appreciate some help on what I should do next. I am just lost.

Sorry this is so long.

soc


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#63442 - 10/03/02 08:07 PM Re: please help
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Soccer
what you've got listed as the usual suspects seems about right, especially with all the doubts and fears that filing the case must be adding to his problems.

I think the kind of things he's saying reflect that
Quote:
"telling me what I wanted to hear" by saying that he was thinking of an engagement after our one year anniversary (which was last month) and that he really has no clue when he will be comfortable with marriage. He has some really bad images of what being married entails "that it involves sacrifice - it requires denying my needs and letting someone else's take precedence" (his words).
I know I got easily confused when I was in the thick of dealing with my SA, and I wasn't filing law suits and thinking of marriage.

We say crazy things when we're wounded. ( Tom Waits )

Lloydy

_________________________
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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#63443 - 10/04/02 12:50 PM Re: please help
New to this Offline
Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 138
Loc: Mississippi
Soccer,
Comparing your abuse to his is like the apple and orange bit.
We men are not expected to be submissive. We were not taught that. We are expected to be aggressive, to fight for ourselves, defend ourselves etc.. What kind of a man would let himself be abused? Abuse is an assult on our manhood. We can't cry about it, we sure as hell can't tell our friends about it. The damage is far greater than anyone(other than another abused male) imagines.
I'm not trying to make light of your abuse, but your boyfriend has an entirely different set of issues to deal with.

_________________________
"Knowledge itself is power" Francis Bacon

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#63444 - 10/04/02 02:59 PM Re: please help
soccer Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 43
So how do these entirely different set of issues relate to my bf's behaviour?


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#63445 - 10/04/02 06:05 PM Re: please help
searching Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/00
Posts: 21
Hi, soccer.

I don't think the point is whether his issues are different from yours (although I understand what New To This is saying). I think the truth is that survivors can be very disconnected from their own needs and wants. They can alternate between being emotionally selfish and giving away too much. So one minute your BF may be saying what he thinks you want to hear, and the next minute he may tell you that he can't worry about your needs right now.

All of this confusion is part of this early phase of recovery. To be honest--and I know that the clock is ticking, believe me--it isn't the best time to make long-term plans. As difficult as it may be, the best thing to do right now is try to just live for the moment, take baby steps, and work toward a place of more stability.

To put this in perspective--during the early part of my relationship with a survivor (which was an awful, rocky, up-and-down time), he once told me laughingly that his grandmother asked him whether he was thinking about marrying me. He said, "Isn't that hilarious?" I was devastated. I wasn't dying to be married, but I did want to know that I was at least on the roster. So I figured, well, so much for that.

But, on the contrary, a couple of months later he asked me to live with him. And six months later he proposed. Six months after that, we were married. Next year, we'll celebrate our 15th anniversary.

Was it an easy road? Absolutely not. I realized early on that he is extremely vulnerable emotionally, and pushing for something that he's not ready for only made things far worse. I had to learn to let him find his feet emotionally, so to speak. Otherwise he would completely withdraw, sometimes after causing me severe emotional pain.

It took years of working through the ups and downs for us to begin to find a more honest way to deal with each other emotionally. It's been getting better all the time--but old behaviors can still crop up, especially during stressful times.

Anyway, try to take it slow. Give all of this as much room as you can. Of course, don't just ignore your own needs in favor of his--if you don't want to wait around, you must decide whether he's worth this. But trying to force him to do what he's not ready for will not have a good outcome. He'll either give in, and then harbor anger and resentment, or he'll pull away completely.

Hang in there. This isn't easy, but it can end up being rewarding.

Best of luck,
Lynda


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#63446 - 10/04/02 07:17 PM Re: please help
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Ah Lynda.......... it takes a partners viewpoint to tell it like it is, we live in so much confusion when we're in recovery that we don't know what the hell we want for most of the time.

Only in the last few weeks have I begun to realise that most of my problems are contained, they aint gone that's for sure, but I deal with them now.
So I've been able to reflect with a certain amout of clarity and see what an awkward bastard I've been for the last few years. Selfish is way to small a word for it.

Soccer, I think Lynda's right - there's a pile of crap he's got to get rid of. And if you think he's the man for you, forget his SA problems ( just for a moment ) and think of the man he is, and more importantly the man he's going to be, then ask is he worth the wait ?

Lloydy

_________________________
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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#63447 - 10/07/02 10:56 AM Re: please help
soccer Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 43
Thanks Lynda, Lloydy.

I'm not ready to walk away from my sweetie yet.. for the most part, when he's not acting out in a nasty, selfish kind of way, we get along great. And this only seems to happen in "spells" - in fact we are actually going to couples' counselling to deal with our individual backgrounds in this relationship. The fact that HE set it up and manages the appointments as well as going to his own therapy, as well as completing his case against his perp. is probably a good sign that he's ready to begin working on this.

I am not so sure that this is the "early" stages of recovery, but then again, maybe it is.. I dont know. He is definitely at the stage of being aware of his actions - I'm not totally sure if he's put all the pieces together and realized how much this is linked to his SA.. but he IS aware of what he does and how it hurts others, and within a few days he always comes around to apologize and explain himself. Its just that during one of his "episodes" he can get REALLY nasty, which always results in hurt feelings and anxiety on my part.

I definitely will not push him - all I'm doing now is encouraging him to be honest with me - if he wants to do something, or not, or is angry with me, displeased, happy, etc. I"m just encouraging him to express his feelings, I validate them, and deal with what he has to say, and I always thank him for being honest about things. I realy want to make him feel safe and important with me. Sometimes there's nothing i can do to fill that hole in him, but during the times when I can help, I always try to do so.

If its one thing about my sweetie, SA or not, he's one of those kinds of guys that take a long time to make a decision, but once he makes it, there's no turning back. Over the time we've been togehter, I've seen him quit drugs for good, file his case against his SA perp, change his eating/exercise habits to get in better shape, parted with his *first* car, and begin another session of intensive therapy (couple and individual). We even went to church together last night! He's really putting in a lot of work on himself right now.

I trust all of this is a good sign?!?!?!?!

soc


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#63448 - 10/07/02 11:43 AM Re: please help
searching Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/00
Posts: 21
Soccer, it sure sounds like a good sign. And you should be very pleased about one thing--you're dealing with these issues before marriage and children. Trust me, it can be much more difficult to cope with the ups and downs when you're also worrying about whether your marriage will survive and, most important, whether you are causing irreparable harm to your children. The healthier you and he become now, and the stronger your relationship becomes, the better things will be if you do end up "married with children."

Take care,

Lynda


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#63449 - 10/07/02 12:53 PM Re: please help
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Soccer
He sounds like one very lucky guy.

Lloydy \:D

_________________________
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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