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.