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#67592 - 09/04/03 01:24 AM no-win (stealing from doctorfrau)
stpbb Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 103
Hey, hope I don't offend anyone by stealing this topic & moving it into a new thread, but this REALLY seemed like an important topic me & I wanted to address it without it being attached to the original situation with Aaron.

Doctorfrau posted:
"From personal experience, survivors seem to want it both ways - they push us away and then damn us for leaving them. They want support when THEY want it, but you'd damn well better not get in their "space" while doing it. Being so wrapped up in your own issues so as to ignore the needs and feelings of others seems like the real selfishness here."

I have been really feeling conflicted about this regarding my former decision to stay in my relationship and my recent decision to leave. I appreciate the responses already given -- they were a help in validating and understanding this issue.

Honestly, I have offered every kind of support that seems appropriate to my ex bf & felt a huge amount of concern that I was being codependent. On the other hand, I read posts here about the importance of support both from the survivors themselves and from the partners in long-term marriages or partnerships and see that you HAVE GONE THROUGH this stuff previously & gotten past it & moved on.

So, on the one hand, it isn't my job, my bf is being a jerk & hurtful & therefore I should leave. On the other, nothing has meant more to the relationships that survived than making it through those really rough and difficult times. So which is it? When you were acting out or being really inappropriate with your partner who stayed, what made it change? Why do you respect them for staying when that behavior is intolerable & generally earns a response of 'leave the jerk'?

I don't ask because I am questioning my own decision, I just really want to know. I feel like I am in the no-win situation -- I am a codependent pushover if I stay, but what survivors REALLY need are those people who will stay with them through the thick of it and support them in their healing.

Well, honestly, the recovery process can take a long time. The fact is that during that process there are stages which involve extreme self-involvement and an inability to deal with external issues. This is part of the normal process of recovery. Now, any relationship is supposed to be based on the needs and feelings of both parties involved, which is not possible when the survivor is going through these stages, regressing, or otherwise suffering the normal process of recovery -- which, I think I mentioned, can take a LONG time. So, why am I codependent if I say I love my bf and am willing to hold his hand through that process? (OK, not me personally guys, I am fully aware of what is driving me out of this relationship personally -- but in general??) This really seems like a Catch-22 situation to me & that has really made it more confusing for me to try to unravel my own personal situation.

Even now, I think partly that my ex bf feels that my move is rejecting him & he is terribly wounded by that & part of his acting out has to do with that dynamic as well. I know that he is dealing with HUGE stuff relating to his father being around, his niece revealing accusations about his father, his ex gf ALWAYS sends him into a tailspin when she shows up, he has been physically sick & in pain, and in general, recovery seems like a cycle -- one step forward, one back, etc. So I choose to take this moment to quit talking to him? Isn't that, from his point of view, really a mean nasty thing to do? If he were posting here about me, wouldn't you guys be telling him he deserves support and caring through this? And isnt' it true?

At the same time, i know that his sleeping in bed with his ex who does always send him into a tailspin is more that I can personally take because it shows me how caught up in that dynamic he really is & makes me feel unvalued unimportant and unloved. And really, it is a sign that he doesn't care if I stay or not. The fact that he projects onto me that I am mean to him is really a sign of his dysfunction & hurts a lot. I combine the two & draw my own line right about there. But really, how can a partner really be a 'healthy' non-codependent person and stay in a relationship with someone going through the recovery process?

Any thoughts?

-BB.


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#67593 - 09/04/03 06:23 AM Re: no-win (stealing from doctorfrau)
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
BB

Quote:
nothing has meant more to the relationships that survived than making it through those really rough and difficult times. So which is it? When you were acting out or being really inappropriate with your partner who stayed, what made it change? Why do you respect them for staying when that behavior is intolerable & generally earns a response of 'leave the jerk'?
I fall right into the category of - "leave the jerk!"

Acting out with strange men - lying - no relationship - no intimacy - hell, most of the time no conversation !

If I had been caught acting out by the police, and it always goes to court here, I would have been out on my arse. I know that and my wife will admit it as well.
The ONLY reason I'm still here is that she now trusts me once again. And trust has to be the foundation of love ?

But going back to 1998 when I last acted out, did I 'want' to get caught ? - Well maybe go way back to when I first started with acting out behaviours, sometime straight after the abuse stopped when I was 16 yo.
I was doing stuff then that was acting out, and I think I was saying "look here at what I do - ask me WHY ?" But it never happened, and it carried on and escalated.

The point of me telling this is that it's what I told my wife when she foundout that I was cottaging, I've been lucky in that my recovery is something she's been involved with, so I can tell her anything - it's that trust thing again.

Undoubtedly I was lucky in the sequence of events unfolding in a way that a huge level of trust had been regained when the acting out came to light, so we dealt with it. That was luck, nothing else.

And the thing that makes her mad is me not telling her what's going on in my head when I'm having a bad day. And saying "I didn't want to bother you with it my Love" doesn't go down at all well.

I'm having a bit of a downer at the moment, I'm off work and home alone, feeling sorry for myself, trying to give up smoking......
And the ease that I can slip back into myold comforts is amazing. So I've been struggling with the internet porn / masturbation routine for a few days now.
When I did finally tell her she went ape-shit.
Because I'd waited for about foru days befrore telling her - what I was doing was unimportant, although she can't have been pleased.

I showed that I still didn't trust her enough to share my crap straight away.

And from what you write about your ex bf you didn't seem to get that level of trust you wanted either.

We are a difficult bunch of guys - make no mistake over that. We have been forced to think in a very selfish manner "me, me, me !"
And that's got to be done to recover, but it doesn't last forever.

As we go into our recoveries we learn to trust ourselves, then others. So we should also learn to give back some of what we have taken.
But old habits die hard. I've been selfish for the best part of forty years, it's a hell of a job to change. Trust me. ;\)


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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#67594 - 09/04/03 08:11 AM Re: no-win (stealing from doctorfrau)
martin Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/08/03
Posts: 229
Loc: The Good Earth
BB,

If you stay and put up with that type of behaviour aren't you in a way condoning it. Or maybe you will set up a situation where he stops just to please you, to keep the relationship and thats not healing at all.

Maybe leaving in those circumstances is the best thing to do. It certainly sets clear boundaries which is something that many survivors need to learn about.

I'm leaning to the 'leave the jerk' side too. Yes we need lots of support but also need to learn the costs of our behavior. Its a hard lesson to learn, true. Those are the most effective and important ones though as long as we take the opportunity to learn them.

Peace,

Aaron

_________________________
Its times like these we learn to live again,
Its times like these we give & give again,
Its times like these we learn to love again,
Its times like these time & time again.
-The Foo Fighters

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#67595 - 09/04/03 10:17 AM Re: no-win (stealing from doctorfrau)
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Quote:
Originally posted by martin:
BB,

If you stay and put up with that type of behaviour aren't you in a way condoning it.

*stuff snipped*

Maybe leaving in those circumstances is the best thing to do. It certainly sets clear boundaries which is something that many survivors need to learn about.

*more stuff snipped*

Yes we need lots of support but also need to learn the costs of our behavior. Its a hard lesson to learn, true. Those are the most effective and important ones though as long as we take the opportunity to learn them.

In your case, I tend to think this way too - there are times when you do need to give support but if the partner is acting well outside of what acceptable behaviour is, then you probably dont have much choice but to leave. You're not doing him any favours by condoning inappropriate behaviour, and certainly not doing yourself any favours either. You cant lose your own dignity in the process of helping someone else, and sometimes tough love is the best thing to do. Its hard on you, but it certainly seems you have poured out your heart and your love to him and he's just not accepting it. And if you really think about it, in any relationship its just insane to have to ASK to be treated properly! (I have moments where I mull over that tidbit of weirdness in my own mind..)

I think you are at the point where your relationship is causing you much emotional pain, and that is NOT worth it. Being a martyr won't help him one bit.

For my BF, he had to lose jobs, girlfriends, education opportunities and a lot of time and a whole lot of self esteem in order for him to realize that his unhealthy coping reactions to his SA were hurting him. He had girlfriends who really did want to help him, but he destroyed those relationships through drugs, alcohol and withdrawal. Then he followed those relationships up with some pretty unhealthy ones. He had to learn things the hard way, unfortunately.

I find at the best of times guys just dont want to be told what to do (even if it is in his best interest) by their girlfriends or wives, let alone someone mired in the pain of SA.


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#67596 - 09/04/03 10:45 AM Re: no-win (stealing from doctorfrau)
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada

Quote:
I'm having a bit of a downer at the moment, I'm off work and home alone, feeling sorry for myself, trying to give up smoking......
And the ease that I can slip back into myold comforts is amazing. So I've been struggling with the internet porn / masturbation routine for a few days now.
Lloydy - if you're having difficulties with quitting smoking - dont try to quit smoking alone. Talk to your doctor! Its long been accepted in the medical community that MOST people (SA or no SA) have a hard time with it. Some antidepressants (zyban) have been found to be quite helpful with the anxiety that is caused by smoking cessation. Might help keep other habits at bay? Just a thought.


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#67597 - 09/05/03 04:00 AM Re: no-win (stealing from doctorfrau)
stpbb Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 103
OK, I guess this gets at the heart of what I'm getting at:

"The ONLY reason I'm still here is that she now trusts me once again. And trust has to be the foundation of love?"

How can you know when it is OK to trust when someone has a serious condition, like the PTSD, OCD, Depression, etc? I mean, I went through a serious depression & some people abandoned me. Of course, at the time I offered no support to my friends, was unable to listen, engage or show concern for their important life events. I was needy and had no energy to put into anything, especially focusing on anyone else problems or issues at the time. My true friends had faith in me, supported me through it & didn’t judge my behavior because they knew it wasn’t the real ‘me’. How long do I deserve that support and understanding? How many times does someone ‘get’ to be depressed before they are condemned to lose their friends because they need to learn more appropriate behavior?

His trust hasn’t been given to me, that is exactly right, & I am tremendously hurt by that. I feel like I have offered everything I possibly could & then been told that I wasn’t a trustworthy enough person for him to be emotionally invested in. I trusted him repeatedly while he struggled through issues – thinking that he’d get past the selfish stage & move into one where he’d be ready to address ‘us’, or at least me. That trust was broken for me by him keeping me at arms length & putting so much of himself on the line to help the ex gf & then sharing such intimacy. And a big part of that was feeling like he offered her the trust of allowing her to be close.

Having said that, I have read some posts in the survivor’s forums discussing how unsupportive the partners are for not staying through this, that it is not the survivor’s fault that they have issues & that they deserve to be given time & opportunity to heal, rather than being left because they have problems brought on by the abuse in their past.

So isn’t there kind of a conflict there? I mean, my ex has been actively working on his recovery & this is clearly a regression in his progress. If he was getting chemo for cancer, we’d be looking at it as a setback requiring faith & hope for the next stage to be better. No one would be telling me I should leave for his & my own good….

I think the example of alcoholism is very comparable – it is a disease & impacts the people closest to you & often alcoholics are not helped by the support offered to them in their process of recovery. But isn’t it the wrong kind of paradigm to set up when talking about someone who is attempting to reconstruct their self-perception & develop self-love and the ability to trust? How can we simultaneously say that the little boy inside wasn’t responsible and didn’t deserve what happened, developed defense mechanisms as a normal reaction to an abnormal situation that take time & work to reconstruct & then be so judgmental about the recovery process?

I appreciate all your support of my decision. I really do feel confident about leaving. I don't doubt that it is the healthiest thing for me, and I agree that, to a certain extent, accepting unacceptable behavior makes it acceptable. Part of me feels like the conversations I had with my ex, where I told him that I was not giving up on him, that I believed in him and in his recovery are contradicted by my leaving the relationship & I am trying to reconcile that for my own peace of mind.

For my own personal choices, it came down to where to draw the line -- basically I can't be endangering myself, much like the drunk driving scenario. When the ex gf came around again and he regressed to the degree that he has, I couldn't sit here saying 'its ok sweetie I know you’re only treating me like s*** because of what happened to you' That is absurd and insulting to him as well, making him into a child & victim in the process instead of a grown man making choices for himself. On the other hand, there has to be some acceptance of inappropriateness or 'unhealthiness' or else we are condoning abandoning anyone who is sick or suffering. People don’t tell spouses to leave each other when one gets Alzheimer’s disease.

Aren’t PTSD, OCD, Depression, etc also a reason for such inappropriate behavior? Instead of a medical disease creating erratic behavior & confusion, SA recovery encompasses closeness and relating to other people. So, I guess my point is how do we know when to give someone the benefit of the doubt? (& trust?) If commitment to recovery is the key, then my ex has that -- he has been getting therapy for the past two years, and through that process came to an awareness of his family history & the impact it has had on him. This situation is so clearly a regression, I can see the recent events that have impacted him & driven him into defense mode. I know him well enough to realize that he isn’t just screwing around with all of this & I also really believe that if he were posting on this forum, I would look like the bad guy in the story.

He’d tell the story of the events impacting his life & his recovery. He’d explain about the struggle he has to keep from falling off the edge into suicidal thoughts or the inability to leave the house. Then he’d tell how I was demanding, expecting, pushing him and then abandoning him. And from his viewpoint it is all true. So am I not just confirming the idea that people who are close to you are not trustworthy & can’t be relied on? Or actually just being untrustworthy and unreliable?

-BB.


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#67598 - 09/05/03 10:03 AM Re: no-win (stealing from doctorfrau)
outis Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/27/03
Posts: 2260
Loc: Maryland USA
BB,

Quote:
My true friends had faith in me, supported me through it & didn’t judge my behavior because they knew it wasn’t the real ‘me’. How long do I deserve that support and understanding?
I don't think any of us deserve such understanding. When it comes from true friends, it's a gift, not something we are owed or have earned. The support that you gave all this time to him was a gift, not something he deserved. Look at Sammy\'s recent post where she mentioned receiving a gift and feeling the need to reciprocate. That "one for me, one for you" kind of exchange is not what friendship, and ultimately intimacy, is about. Sammy's friend understood that and she came to accept it. There isn't any keeping score or earning points or deserving treatment. Two people make these gifts to one another in honor of the relationship and its importance in their individual lives.

Unfortunately, it sounds like he had an attitude of "counting" and "ranking" your gifts, to tell you what you had "earned." To go further, if he's as confused as I can be, the rankings can change, abruptly and without warning, so you might "lose points" today for behavior that was desired yesterday or last week. If you were pulled into that sort of thinking, then it's no wonder you reached the point of wanting to leave, of looking for something better in your own life.
Quote:
How can we simultaneously say that the little boy inside wasn’t responsible and didn’t deserve what happened, developed defense mechanisms as a normal reaction to an abnormal situation that take time & work to reconstruct & then be so judgmental about the recovery process?
For me, one thing that defines recovery as such hard work is learning to accept responsibility for my adult behaviors, and learning to change the ancient, ingrained habits that began as defense mechanisms and now serve only to damage my chance for intimacy with the woman I love, the woman I want to accompany through our lives. I do get angry, raging like some injured beast, inappropriately, when somthing brushes against some trigger. I have to learn to identify those triggers and counter those automatic responses in service to our relationship. Or lose the relationship.
Quote:
Part of me feels like the conversations I had with my ex, where I told him that I was not giving up on him, that I believed in him and in his recovery are contradicted by my leaving the relationship & I am trying to reconcile that for my own peace of mind.
Remember, you were not giving up, and you did believe. You gave those gifts. No less than Geraldo returning the lion to DoctorFrau, your exBF has returned the gifts, unopened, to you.
Quote:
I also really believe that if he were posting on this forum, I would look like the bad guy in the story.
You're not alone there at all, I'm sure. How many of us would look like the noble hero or heroine in the "heat of the moment" version of conflict that our partners would post?
Quote:
So am I not just confirming the idea that people who are close to you are not trustworthy & can’t be relied on? Or actually just being untrustworthy and unreliable?
Two questions, two answers in my two cents.

Well, if I were in the position that he is, at some point I might think that you were confirming that idea. I hope that I would eventually be able to see a more balanced view of what's actually happened. I would eventually come to realize that I pushed another potentially healthy and healing relationship away.

Are you being untrustworthy and unreliable? After all, you've only agonized over this latest incident for weeks, you've only bared your heart on the net here to strangers while you're looking for ways to keep the relationship together because you know he needs something like that, you've only....

Our lives on earth are finite. We can glimpse something of the infinite in the kind of giving relationship that is based on sharing our lives and selves (intimacy), the relationship that is more than the sum of us. How much of your finite life you can offer, despite continuing rejection, is a question only you can answer. It sounds to me like you have the answer, too. But to deliver the promised two cent answer I'll say that I do not believe you are being unreliable or untrustworthy

You have been very helpful to me several times as I come here and read. I'm sure your words have been helpful to others, too. I wish you all the best wherever your life leads you now. I feel sadness that your ex seems to breaking on recovery, like a wave hitting on a rocky outcrop. Many survivors lose a lot of precious things, and some of those can never be regained. I believe you have done your best to honor the relationship. "You can lead a horse to water...."

Thanks,

Joe
(edited to clarify the reference to Sammy's post.)

_________________________
"Telemachos, your guest is no discredit to you. I wasted no time in stringing the bow, and I did not miss the mark. My strength is yet unbroken…"—The Odyssey, translated by W.H.D. Rouse

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#67599 - 09/05/03 08:41 PM Re: no-win (stealing from doctorfrau)
stpbb Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 103
Thank you so much! My confusion comes from the ranking of gifts, the shifting of rules & the attempt to reconcile all of that within the context of his issues. I question my own offerings because he has. I get confused about him ‘sending them back’ because he doesn’t always do that. In the past, when it happens that way I can just hold on & keep offering & he comes around eventually. I decided not to do that with regards to this because I am really hurt and I can’t take the responsibility for fixing a rift caused by his relationship with his ex gf – that is really up to him to sort out, not me.

So, because I have done that in the past & the rankings change, I end up feeling like I am the one leaving, even though he is the one pushing me away. Thanks for reminding me that he is ultimately making the choice to push me away. All I am doing is agreeing to go.

“Our lives on earth are finite. We can glimpse something of the infinite in the kind of giving relationship that is based on sharing our lives and selves (intimacy), the relationship that is more than the sum of us. How much of your finite life you can offer, despite continuing rejection, is a question only you can answer.”

Yes, that is the question, and again I think it helps to put the responsibility back to him. I have made willingness to work through this with him so clear that now it is not something I can take back home & re-wrap & present again. Just because I have been consistent in the past – open and willing to share consistently even though he wasn’t – doesn’t obligate me to stay that way at the expense of my own feelings. And if I did at this point it wouldn’t be honest. I’ve been sincere in my expression of feelings toward him & I am too hurt to continue trying to find the window that is still open where I can deliver the gift.

“You have been very helpful to me several times as I come here and read. I'm sure your words have been helpful to others, too. I wish you all the best wherever your life leads you now. I feel sadness that your ex seems to breaking on recovery, like a wave hitting on a rocky outcrop. Many survivors lose a lot of precious things, and some of those can never be regained. I believe you have done your best to honor the relationship. "You can lead a horse to water...."”

Yes, the sadness is strong for me, especially when I read such similar stories to his from the survivors here & know that he is struggling with a lot of isolation through this process. I’m glad if I have contributed anything of value to you or anyone here. I feel like I could never give back what I have gained here.
-BB.


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