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Switch to Forum Live View After an abusive relationship.. how to cope and rebuild your life?
7 years ago  ::  Jun 16, 2008 - 3:46PM #1
dakota
Posts: 126
Tpop, I am so so happy that you had a breakthrough. That is such great news. I'm telling you those breakthroughs are so precious. Like Hatman said, the Mountains of learning ahead that you will slip down. Yup, I keep slipping down them but, I keep getting back up and trying again. It gets alittle bit easier each time. I just fell down yesterday and was heading toward that hole again but, I prayed for dear life and I'm back climbing again. God bless you. Hang in there. I did want to tell you that just writing to you helps me too. So feel good about that. Ok?
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 02, 2008 - 3:12AM #2
tpop
Posts: 45
I was in a very emotionally abusive relationship for almost five years and did not really know it until after it was over. I've learned that emotional abuse is usually much harder to recognize than say physical abuse, where the signs are obvious, and much harder for many to understand as with anyhting emotional, it's hard to "see". Further, there are very few resources for men who have been in abusive relationships, it seems that it's much more common for women to have been in physically/emotionally abusive relationships, so while I can read and learn the same characteristics and symptoms I've suffered and now suffer with on sites for women, there is very little out there to help me and it makes me feel even more isolated and alone in my struggle to rebuild my pride and self esteem, which is one of the attributes after being in any type of abusive relationship.

I have no health insurance, have a counselor who I can barely afford and will not be able to afford very soon, and all public health centers geared towards helping partners of abusive relationships basically refuse me becasue I am male and was not physically abused.

The desperation I feel sometimes makes me have suicidal thoughts. I am a totally different person as far as my lifestyle, personal care, and responibility as I was before this relationship. I had my own succesfful business, was happy and independent on my own, and able to handle my responsibilities on a daily basis. The emotional abuse and neglect I recieved for five years with a very controlling woman who would shut me down and basically cause an argument, or tell me I had psychological issues every time I tried to communicate about something important in our relatationship, and then say "all we do is argue" etc and blame me for our problems, and my continued attempts to work out our problems, which worked for a while, have essentially destroyed me. In the end, she left me while engaged, planning a wedding, and two months after buying a house.... in her name. All I did was lover her, give her my trust, and work very hard for her and our future. The day she broke it off she said there was nothing to talk about, and within two weeks she was attempting to evict me from the home we had just bought. A week before this we were picking out wedding invitations and she she was discussing how soon we'd have children. After five years and where we were, she tells me she was just comfortable with me, never in love. I've realized through counselling she has serious emotional issues and flaws, however it's been a year and I still have serious problems with trust, confidence and getting close to someone due to her insincerity of emotions and the way I was mistreated emotionally.  Can anyone relate or help me with advice? The effects are just like that of someone who has been physically abused but no one around me accept my doctor understands this and family and friends don't help because there advice is "just move on", I've been through breakups and heartbrake before, which on the surface is what this seems like, but it is in fact much different. My standard of living, pride, personal care, responsibility, basic things like paying bills, self esteem, and everything about who I am and was has changed from this relationship for over a year now. I've learned through counselling that over five years this breakdown of who I was, that no matter what I did and how much it was appreciated at first, was never enough, and there was nothing I could do to satisfy someone of this controlling nature. I feel desperate and alone.... is there anyone who understands or has been in an emotionaly abusive relationship, and that men go through the same thing as many women in physically abusive relationships once they get out of such a relationship?

I've suffered from severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks in public, sometimes feel the need to flee public places, get nervous in normal everyday situations, cannot run my business effectively anymore, and sometimes have  hard time making simple decisions. I'm 37, and have never had these type of complications in my life. I was formerly a camerman filiming documentaries for the travel and Discovery channel, and now can barely leave my home or care for myself and my basic needs. I feel at times like a 10 year old child. Any understanding or insight of what has happened to me, and how to cope and rebuild after such a relationship would be greatly appreciated.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 02, 2008 - 2:07PM #3
dreamhealth
Posts: 617
tpop, hello, and hold on. I was sexually abused as a boy, and I was so thankful that, although dealing with it late in life (40s), there had begun to be written manuals on healing for males. One in four males are sexually abused. As I have chatted around the internet, I found that sexually abused males are pretty prevalent. So, don't think you're the one of the very few out there. For quite a while, I read things for and by women. (They said "just change the pronouns; we women do it all the time."

When you're in such a poor state, the most important thing is to take care of yourself. Be good to yourself, even in very small ways.  Second, trust the way that you are healing now. It is very important to know that the smallest emotional healing is a great thing because it prepares the way for the next one. It's back and forth. One day, you lick your wounds and re-suffer; another day, you feel recovered and wonderful. It takes patience to get where you are going. This is why you have to discover life as a "healing journey". When you do, you will notice others on the road.

Along this line, there's plenty of recovery material out there. Some of my favorite books are RECLAIMING OUT DAYS and THE REFLECTING POND. The second, I think, comes from the alchoholic recovery tradition. TELLING YOUR STORY by Sam Keen is also very good. It is a cassette recording. There is the twelve steps for everything. See Patrick Carnes. Look into physical fitness, too. That raises your self esteem the fastest. It doesn't cure your inner problems, but it does enhance your well being. Get into groups that talk. Sometimes, they don't cost much; sometimes, they do.  I have been working on my problems for 16 years, and it is now rewarding, even, today. Thank you for the opportunity to say so.  All your (healing) steps will add up. Do not expect spectacular, instant results. The charm of healing is knowing yourself.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 02, 2008 - 2:26PM #4
sharon_bivens
Posts: 658
Good advice above!

Personally, I think you should be rejoicing right now and happy that you did not wind up with that woman.  Pity the poor man who does and be glad it is not you!

Seriously, take baby steps.  Get out in the sunshine!!  Go for walks every day and focus on controlling the things in your life that you can control.  Do not worry about things in the future like new relationships, etc.  Right now, you need to be kind to yourself!  Be loving to yourself.  Learn to be your own best friend and to be comfortable in your own skin.

Do things that you
enjoy.  Yes!  You are entitled to be happy!!

Peace,

Sharon
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 03, 2008 - 2:37AM #5
tpop
Posts: 45
Thank all for your advice and support... some of you hi the nail on the head. First, I am very depressed and trying to cope with that. Second,I am trying to  understand exactly what I went through in the rleationship as I've been through breakups before, but never like this. What makes it different is knowing how hard I tried to communicate with her for the better of our relationship, and it was basically all  thrown in my face, I was belittled by her, ridiculed, and now that I have depression and other problems, told by her that I had mental problems all along when in reality my problems stem from never being able to communicate with her. In any case I am trying to hold on, it's been a year, I am taking very small steps, but from where I was in my life, even without her, before her, to find pride or self esteem in the little things I can do now is very hard for me. But I rhank you all again and hope for more advice and support.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 03, 2008 - 7:14PM #6
dreamhealth
Posts: 617
Thank you for getting back, too, as it is nice to know how the advice is going. Even when I was bad off, I tried to function normally, or at least practice doing so. As you discover yourself, you let the relationship go more and more. You live your own life and develop (many) other relationships. Loving others is very helpful to healing.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 04, 2008 - 1:14AM #7
dreamhealth
Posts: 617
I've suffered from severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks in public, sometimes feel the need to flee public places, get nervous in normal everyday situations, cannot run my business effectively anymore, and sometimes have  hard time making simple decisions. I'm 37, and have never had these type of complications in my life. I was formerly a camerman filiming documentaries for the travel and Discovery channel, and now can barely leave my home or care for myself and my basic needs. I feel at times like a 10 year old child. Any understanding or insight of what has happened to me, and how to cope and rebuild after such a relationship would be greatly appreciated.[/QUOTE]

What you have described is regression. Whe we come under keen threat, real or imaginery, we regress to a younger age instead of processing the pain. In the younger age, we will feel secure or remember feeling secure. I see this all the time in a girl at church. Although she has gotten to the age of second grade, when there are moments that she can't handle, she "tries" to regress to being a smaller child or a baby (when she was taken care of and wasn't called up or expected to process anything in a mature way). It is somewhat humorous to see her try to shrink herself physically, though she can't do it. She leans her head on her grandma and shows an angry face. Fortunately, grandma doesn't buy her actions and realizes that she is going through a tough time.

The age of ten is when we would expect someone to direct our life and to expect that an adult would set the guidelines and take care of us. At age 37, we have enough maturity and personal power to do that for ourselves and for our hurting inner child. Maybe you received some emotional traumas at ten years old adn don't realize it. The old traumas are woken up by the present ones, and the maturity of functioning is ten. At such times, we have to be our own grandmother to nurture and guide.

I remember reading about spontaneous regressions in John Bradshaw's writing. He wrote of an (ex?) mother-in-law who couldn't take losing card games. After losing more than she could stand, she would throw the cards down like a two year old and say, "I quit."  Commented Bradshaw, "And she was only 72!"  Instead of acknowleging her pain, dealing with it, and improving her card playing skills, she made a scene and took her marbles and went home, expecting everyone to take care of her.  She spontanously regressed to an age where power plays was the (easy) way of dealing with the situation.

If you spontaneously regressed in this past relationship, you probably acted out how you dealt with stresses at an earlier age, and then she punished you for the regression, which was really an expression of HER anger of having to deal with regressed behavior.  That is what hurts so much. It is even more painful for other people to see our insecurities and immaturities, our spontaneous regressions. It is an exposure of the growth that we never achieved. The opportunity to heal and learn is always there, and that is the hope of recovery and what recovery is.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 05, 2008 - 10:32PM #8
tpop
Posts: 45
Thank you dreampost. Your post on regression was very, very insightful and rang true for me. I did in fact experience some trauma around the age of ten, a one time incident of physical abuse from my father and interestingly enough, my ex experienced severe trauma around age 13 while almost being paralyzed from a car accident, broke her neck, was bedridden for nine months, and  her father left her mother at that time. I've heard her mother use this as a guilt trip on her at times and felt it was very innapropriate. My ex never ackowledged that this had any impact on her and seemed oblivious to the guilt her mother would lay on her, she would just cave right in under this guilt without thinking twice. I think as a result, it would seem at times when I wanted to discuss certain things with my ex that were complicated issues of any relationship that needed to be discussed, she would recoil, kind of shut down as if I were attempting to make her feel guilty because to indicate something wasn't perfect, kind of meant to her everything was horrible and/or she must be doing something wrong. Maybe her reaction was an instinctive result to avoiding the guilt her mother would place on her, however it created such huge communication problems for us. As sensitive and nice as I would try and discuss something with her, she always took it so personal as if it was her fault if everything was not perfect, and by no means did I mean to make her feel that way, I in fact walked on eggshells in my conversation to carefully convey whatever it was without accidentally pushing her into that mode because nothing would get accomplished or be heard after that.

As for me, this situation has brought up anger towards my father for the incident as a child, which was very bizzare to me as it was  something I didn't think much of at all as an adult, had dealt with it years ago and had a healthy relationship with my father all of my adult life as he has been there for me in many, many ways since then. 

Also adding to my depression has been the practical complications of my living situation. My ex threw all of my things, meaning alot, including my home based business and home office randomly into boxes, things broken and in chaos and so forth. I've lived in two hotels at first and since have lived in three places, about to move to my fourth. Each move has been a step up so to speak as some have not even been to my most basic living standards. (I'm seeing these as small  "steps" like you mentioned) I've had and worked for a stable living environment all my life and I'm not accustomed to the constant moving, and going home to temporary places that are not really "home". At the time of getting through this heartbreak, I am also dealing with very little stability in my home life. I'm very concerned about the next move as it will require the most financially and I'm not all back to regular work just yet, and on the flip side, the place I'm currently living depresses me and is too small to organize myself with all my belongings. I feel the new place/neighborhood will help, but I'm concerned with the finances and my work ability.

But I think this "regression" is accurate and a result of some other things that took place during that time when my life seemed to be falling apart around me. At first, I fought, stood up for myself, but as more than just my relationship was affected by my ex's actions, such as my living situation and business, and then she had attorney's harrassing me, it became too much to bare, I crashed, had a nervous breakdown and after this is when I noticed these side effects of anxiety and feeling like a 10 year old who could not take care of himself.  And yes, I felt emotionally like a 10 year old as I needed constant coddling, I was scared to be alone at times and such.


Anyway, I thank you very, very, much. Please if you have more to expound on do not hesitate, your insight has been and is very helpful. Your healing is inspiring and your last post I feel has helped me more than 20 doctors, they all just want to prescribe pills and I know I need more than just that. I can't thank you enough. I will look for the books you recomended. Hope you will post again, your advice and experience had been some of my best counselling yet. Thank You.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 05, 2008 - 10:50PM #9
tpop
Posts: 45
I do not beleive I spontaneously regressed in the relationship, or if so I am unaware if I did. This feeling seemed to happen entirely after the chaos was somewhat settled.

As well, there were times I was with my ex, when things were normal, and say we'd be in a grocery store and I'd wander down a different isle to get things and then find her a few minutes later. When I'd find her she would be incredibly upset to the point she'd slam things in the cart or create a loud embarrassing scene and I could not understand her reaction. Do you have any opinion of what this may have been? Is it similar to a regression response... possibly to abandonment or something? It has always puzzled me. I would simply not respond, a little out of shock and moreso not to upset her or inflame things and I would actually feel bad when she did this because I saw a small part of her that seemed like an innocent child As bizzare as it seemed when she reacted this way, It made me want to protect her, to not hurt her and particularly that part of her that I was seeing. When she would cry, which was not often, it would hurt me so bad too because she would crinkle her whole face like a little girl, I would see her as a 12 year old and it would just rip my heart out. It still does when I think about it.

Sorry for going on but you seem to have a good understanding of these things and I'm trying very hard to understand the dynamic between us and things that may have been going on under the surface for both of us. Your regression comments have really opened up new things for me.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 05, 2008 - 11:38PM #10
Hatman
Posts: 9,634
Tpop-
Yep; sounds like the ex had serious abandonment issues.

You can't fix her.  I'd even go so far as to say that the script playing in her head was a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you just happened to be the actor she chose to play the bad guy so her story would come out "true."  That's HER crap, not yours, and you don't have to own it.

When you catch yourself thinking about her, choose to think about something/someone/ANYthing or anyone else BUT her.

Don't let her and her problems rent space in your head and heart---and when you catch her doing that, have the eviction papers ready-to-hand(in whatever form they can take in your imagination).

What I found particularly helpful in regaining self-esteem and personal power was , counter-intuitively, to find other people TO help, to put aside my own pain and needs, to concentrate---even temporarily---on helping someone else.

Do random acts of kindness.

Pick a bunch of flowers for a little ol' lady at a bus stop.

Clip coupons, go to the grocery store, and leave them on top of the items for the next purchaser to find.

Make little bundles of change, and leave them where children will find them.

Use your imagination.

Grow some plants, tend and care for them.  (I prefer veggies, but YMMV; flowers or herbs could work, too, if these suit your personality.)

Adopt a pet, either from a shelter or from a friend.

Take a friend to dinner or movies or both.

Go hiking.

Go canoeing.

Ride a bike.

Get an easel and paint, and go someplace beautiful to paint it.

Fly a kite.  (BTW, I'll teach you something neat my pop taught me when I was little:  Take one of those ordinary paper napkins and unfold it.  Cut 4 pieces of string the same length, and tape them in each of the 4 corners of the napkin.  Fold the napkin back into it's original shape, and hold it up at a diagonal, so that the strings all hang down the same direction.  Get a few washers, and tie all 4 strings through them for a little weight.  Take one of those pins you get with a new shirt[buy yourself a new shirt, too], fold over about an eighth of an inch at the top of the paper-napkin diamond, push the pin through the fold, then bend it in half.  Once your kite is high enough, hang the parachute you just made on the kitestring by the bent pin, and the wind will blow it up toward the kite; when it gets as high as you want, pull back about 3' of string, then let it go all of a sudden---and the parachute will pop off, then open.

Hey...I think it's cool, and regressing to being a ten year old don't have to be ALL bad, do it?)

In short, do random acts---preferably anonymous ones---that are kind, especially to strangers.  Doing this certainly helped MY self-esteem immensely.  Also, never forget to be kind to yourself, and watch your thoughts; thoughts become both words and deeds, so wrassle 'em in the direction you WANT them to go, 'cause no one else can do that for you.

Be the master of the situation, not a slave to the circumstances, as much as you can, and as soon as you can.

BTW, I was manic-depressive for several years, myself, but had mostly gotten over it(learned my triggers and avoided those situations) back in 90-92 or so; you may need to do something similar.  If you feel like you don't have any friends, make some by BEING a friend.  Learn some comedy routines, or memorize at least 5 bad-to-average jokes, then practice the confident delivery and timing.  If you meditate, step outside your life during a meditation, look at yourself and your life, then give yourself advice as if you were caring for someone you loved very much.

Well, hopefully you'll find at least ONE tool in part of the foregoing that will be useful to you.  I know that when I was in the depths of the depression I was in(very suicidal), what helped me probably the most is the few people who cared enough about me to continue to ask me out/persuade me to do stuff instead of abandoning me to my sitting in the dark or lying abed.

Warmest regards-

Hatman
"History records that the moneychangers have used every form of abuse, deceit, intrigue, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and it's issuance."
-- James Madison(1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President
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