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Most of the women in my family are longterm single .....

(17 Posts)
BeCool Wed 20-Feb-13 22:29:55

recently NC so no need to do it again. If you recognise me please respect my need for some help and guidance and privacy.

I recently separated from P - my decision. Lots of reasons. 2 DC. Work FT. 45yo.

I'm on MN a bit & here so many women talk about their fab relationships, along with many nightmare ones too (esp in Relationships). Mine was somewhere in the middle I guess. I have not had many (any?) close positive relationship models and I started to think about women in my family. So many are single. Strong and single, not moping and single, but still seem to be unable to function long term in relationships, or choose poor partners.

What can I do to change this pattern in my own life? I'd actually really like a lovely relationship (wouldn't we all). In some ways I am strong, relatively self aware, good job, do OK with my life (could do better though), see the sunny side, strive for happiness, want to create a great life for my DC.

On the other hand I feel underserving of a proper partnership, too fat & ugly to be really loved. Scared to be vulnerable. Shit to feel like this I know - It's very deep inside. I did have psychotherapy a few years ago & it was wonderful. Nowadays I have neither the time or the money for it.

Anyway here is a potted rundown of the women in my family & their relationship status/history:

Mum - married at 21 after I was born. 3 DC. Divorced after 12 years (Dad left for OW). Had series of disastrous relationships with real creeps, the most significant being with a misogynistic pedophile who groomed her to have access to my brothers friends (though thankfully not my brother). He lived with us sad I didn't speak to her for about 4 years over this relationship and fallout. I could later see she lacked self worth and self esteem. She's essentially a naive person who was manipulated via her neediness for a man. I know this damaged me.

StepMum - she was the OW. With my Dad for 25 years, 2 DC, left him after discovering 1000's of child porn images on his PC. Major major shit storm. Family catastrophe. SM has been single ever since, little interest in men, though she gets lonely. Great job, great woman, fab life, lots of interests. Strong. Alcoholic. Probably (ironically) my best close female role model.

Sister 1 - had 1 child age 19. Not with the father for long. largely single. Had a few short term relationships after her DD was about 15. Single now.

Sister 2 - in relationship for about 5 years now. Doing well in it I think (we live in different countries).

Aunty 1 - travelled, "escaped" AS TEENAGER. had child on her own in another land. Raised a wonderful child in this far away country. Strong, intelligent, wonderful person. Has had relationships with married men, women, men in other countries. Lived largely as a single person though.

Aunty 2 - divorced. remarried in what seems quite a trad marriage. Seems to be happy.

Aunty 3 - happily married long for about 30 years.

Nan - married forever. I recall there was talk of her leaving my Granddad at an old age - she was prob about 65. Think she'd had too much of waiting on him hand and foot all her life. She didn't leave though.

Me - low self esteem out of troubled teen years (see Mum above). Very depressed from about 18 - 22. Had some professional help. I drank a lot through to about 30. Then got a grip. Had flings. Lots of long term friendships with men (some with benefits, most without) but no lasting relationships. I travelled, got social, had fun, avoided love, felt unloveable. Met exP about 7 years ago after time with psychotherapist - very on/off due to his not committing. Had DC1, exP & I decided to live together. Together 5 years, 2 DC. I loved him. But he has destructive ways that fucked our relationship up - drugs and associated lies and secrets. It's devastating but there you go. I'd rather be single. I could possibly consider giving it another go perhaps if he sorted himself out (I don't think this will happen). He was 60% perfect, 20% bit of a dickhead but that's OK, 20% disaster. We'll end up friends - I think I'm too detached from him now to go back there even if my some miracle he did make much needed changes. But when I see him (when he picks DC up) I have to hold back a natural urge to hug him.

When I look to my friends many are in relationships with DC. There are none I think Oh that looks like a really great relationship - I'd like something like that. They all have issues - I guess all relationships do. But I don't know any couples, either family or friends, like the ones I read exist in MN world - supportive, loving, equal, friends, with good sex lives, trust and commitment. Are they real? I feel like that kind of relationship must be a fluke.

I don't really know the point of this. I guess at the moment I feel like I won't have another relationship (can't think of where I'd meet any new people at all at the moment, let alone a potential partner), but I would like one. I'd like to love a man, and to be loved. I just feel a little cursed by my up bring & genetics. I've done some work in breaking through (with psychotherapist) but I don't think I've cracked it yet.

Any advice? Wise words?

Sorry it's so long & thanks for reading!

Lots of issues in that post smile.

I think the single status of your family isn't unusual. A lot of long term relationships end, isn't it almost half of marriages? Then add people who don't get into marriages, people who are gay or bi and haven't had the chance, people who don't 'get' relationships. If you take a sounding at various parts of my life I have been a married person, divorced person, single person, married again. Who knows in 5 years.

The issues I can see are a couple of nasty, predatory abusers who targeted your family. Again, much more common than people think. Then, some addiction issues. It is much harder to have 'normal' relationships if you have seen abuse, addiction and the fallout. If you think about it, your SM who you are close to drinks, you drank and your ex-P uses drugs. Hardly Sherlock-testing.

I would say that you need to 'crack it' before you look for a new relationship. Recognise unhealthy thinking and patterns, challenge your self-worth. Talk to healthy people who have been in recovery a while. If you drank from teens to thirties you have a lot of emotional catching-up to do.

You learnt an awful lot of damaging stuff when you were growing up from your parents and the people around you. We after all learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents and associated familial role models, you were taught a shedload of damaging lessons which carried over into your relationships in adulthood.

What do you want to teach your children about relationships?.

It is to your credit that you want to break this damaging cycle; it will also provide positive lessons on relationships to your children too if you can break this familial pattern of dysfunction. It will be hard going but the end result will be worth it.

Love yourself for a change, trite perhaps but very true. You have to love your own self properly, another person cannot fix you and you cannot act as either a rescuer or saviour in a relationship. Neither approach works.

Your own self worth and esteem is not surprisingly through the floor, this often is the case after many years of seeing poor familial relationships and family breakdowns. You're different from many of these women though because you now want to change such patterns; they have never had such insight or fear change.

BACP are good re counselling and do not charge the earth; counsellors though are like shoes, you need to find someone who fits in with you. You found pyschotherapy very useful previously, use such a service again. Find the money to do this for you and by turn your children.

BeCool Thu 21-Feb-13 10:03:08

If you drank from teens to thirties you have a lot of emotional catching-up to do.
I'd never thought about it like that - but I think this is spot on. I was very disconnected emotionally after the trauma of my teens. It's so long ago now, and I've come a long way from there, but it does still affect me. I like the idea that I'm "catching-up" - I'll get there in the end.

I don't sit around crying poor me. I have been angry & depressed in the past and I got myself together enough to deal with it as best I could at the time. I'm generally quite pragmatic - but this often comes from a place of keeping going, rather than dealing with emotional stuff.

I guess recent events have just highlighted I need to get back to me and refocus again. Pick up some of this personal work again. Keep striving to improve.

What do you want to teach your children about relationships?
My children are a huge motivation and the main reason I left P. One of those "excellent & devoted fathers" - but not "excellent and devoted" enough to stop spending family money on drugs, and being verbally abusive to Mummy (I suspect largely as a consequence of the drug taking) . I've learnt here that this does NOT make a good father. And of course I've felt it in my heart too.

I want to do as much as I can not to inflict my past onto my DC and I strive to do things differently, to find my own path. Mostly I want to raise girls with self worth, and self belief.

I don't think ever really I've looked for another person to fix me, though unconditional love and support would be welcome. But I am a "fixer" type - though much less now than in the past (20's) where I would get bogged down in other peoples emotional issues - an interesting and time consuming way to avoid my own.

I don't drink much now - perhaps half -one bottle a week with a friend. I'll very occasionally have a glass on my own but not often. I count my blessings regularly that although I've drunk a lot in the past, booze has never had an appeal when I've been depressed (I was more inclined to smoke a joint). Where many in my family have alcoholic tendencies, I don't think I have.

BeCool Thu 21-Feb-13 10:16:39

MrsTP yeah I didn't mean for it to be quite so full of issues and quite so rambling. But when I started to type it just all came up again - so I went with it smile I guess shadows of some of the early traumas are still there.

Re Mum's relationship, that was so huge and overwhelming for me - at a time where I should have been learning about healthy emotions & relationships my life was full of fear, lies, hatred, gas lighting, having my intuition rubbished (I spent years with red lights flashing and alarm bells ringing in my head all the while being told I was a trouble causing selfish bitch). It's so bloody sad. I didn't know how she could effectively abandon us (emotionally if not physically) for such a horrible horrible person. It took me years to even be able to talk to her. I moved myself out of home aged 17 - no money, no benefits. Went to work instead of uni. She will never deal with it with me - I did get to a place where I forgave her. She is/was a fragile and damaged person. She made some whopping mistakes.

I've made some headway with personal emotional healing, but evidently there is a way to go. I just don;t know if I can keep going back there now.

bestsonever Thu 21-Feb-13 10:34:07

Parents still together, bro still married after 20years. I'm single, good role models are no guarantee, though I am pragmatic about it, I'm just busy for now and older so less opportunity :-).

bestsonever Thu 21-Feb-13 10:36:18

Older than I was that is, so much easier in 20's.

BeCool Thu 21-Feb-13 11:03:19

I quite enjoy being single -there are lots of positives about it.
But I am thinking if, for myself and possibly other women in my family at least, it's part of emotional avoidance. It's certainly, emotionally, less challenging and dangerous to be single.

Being vulnerable, for example, is a part of love I have totally struggled with in the past - I recognise that is a barrier to forming a healthy loving relationship.

I think you've picked it though. Not having unhealthy relationships is extremely important. If you aren't able yet to have a healthy one then happy single is great. Good for your DC and for you.

There is a way to go but remember that baby steps in the right direction is far, far better than the alternative. Good luck.

amillionyears Thu 21-Feb-13 15:01:55

I pretty much come from the other side of the coin.
Most of my friends and family are still very much together.
I come from a place and community where you stick with your marriage.
But also from a place and community where peoples' behaviour isnt perfect, but also where there is not much of the sorts of things that you described.

I do think environment plays quite a big part to relationships.

BeCool Thu 21-Feb-13 16:27:47

your words have been like an affirming hug MrsTP smile

What are these baby steps though?

and going back to what Atilla says about, how do you love yourself? I mean how do you get to a state of stable unconditional love for yourself?

Are these all internal acts? Or a matter of breaking bad thought processes - I wonder if CBT would be useful?

I emotional eat - learnt behaviour, emotional crutch etc etc. Would really tackling that on a daily basis be a good place to start?

I don't know what to do now, apart from facing the everyday stuff. Problem is with busy lives, it can be hard to hear yourself, or recognise and listen to your emotions properly. last on the list after DC, work, shopping, cleaning, sleep etc.

I doubt you can multi task emotional healing smile

I will take a look at BACP thanks.

thanks BeCool.

I think challenging some of your thoughts every day is great. Some of the thoughts I would challenge for you are...

Too fat and ugly to be loved? Hell no there's no such thing.
Eating for comfort? Why am I putting this in my mouth?
20% disaster relationship? Hell no 0% disaster. You can compromise but not with abuse.

Start there and see where you end up.

amillionyears Thu 21-Feb-13 16:46:58

I personally feel I can only help you with tiny parts of this.
I dont think you have written how old your DC are?

I used to find that going out into nature with DC, was nice for DC and gave me some clear head space.

BeCool Thu 21-Feb-13 17:51:18

thanks - they are lovely!

I will endeavour to be more emotionally present and alert.
I will be aware of and challenge negative thoughts about my self.

amillionyears I do love getting into nature with the DC (1.5 & 5). We live in central London, but I exploit the wonderful parks around us every weekend, and I try to get more into the "wilderness" on our holidays. It's therapeutic I agree - been a little bracing too of late.

amillionyears Thu 21-Feb-13 21:32:32

Strange question maybe, but why dont you love yourself?
Never actually asked anyone that question before, but I think you can cope with the question, so I wll be brave and ask it.
Obviously dont answer if you dont want to.

BeCool Fri 22-Feb-13 00:18:27

That's a good question million. I don't mind you asking at all - it's what I'm here for.

It's late and I'm in phone. Ill give it some thought and let you know tomorrow.

Given the amount of social and cultural pressure on women not to be single, it's actually a good thing to know women who are happy with single life.Because being single is great, and always better than being in a rubbish couple-relationship.

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