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My difficult youth has caught up with me and is ruining every relationship I have

(120 Posts)
KateeGee Tue 16-Sep-14 00:07:48

I don't know where to start really.

I guess I had a troubled childhood but always kind of plodded on with things. I am now 30 and various recent events have destroyed the facade and I have been in a bit of a breakdown since February. I feel like there is no point to existing. I am seeing a counsellor but an hour a week gets eaten up by me discussing minutiae of certain issues and I feel like I am avoiding talking about things. I don't want to open the floodgates. Whenever I talk about things I end up feeling worse. I don't even know why I am posting here. For ideas, or someone to tell me it will go away? I don't know.

I'm not even sure why I am posting this in Relationships really. I lurk/sometimes contribute here but have been reading a lot, some things have been really helpful for me. I guess all my troubles come from relationships and I feel like I have no one. I feel so lonely and like there is no point to my existence, I actually wish I could vanish.

I've been doing a lot of thinking recently and have come to the conclusion that I feel so unlikeable and lonely that I am desperate and do anything to be liked. And then I get shat on, and then feel even less likeable. I have no close friends - people don't seem to hate me but they don't like me either - I try hard to be nice, be reliable, be enthusiastic, have fun, but I just feel like I am on the periphery and no one actually chooses to be my friend. I get invited to things only if I am needed to make up numbers, because I am reliable. But otherwise I get dropped very easily. And I try to be thick skinned and philosophical about it, but when it happens all the time it really hurts. I try to not moan about it but privately I feel crushed. And I have no one to talk to because no one is close to me.

My mum is not the kind of mother I can have a heart to heart with, for various reasons. My dad is not around, he left the scene when I was a toddler.

I don't know why I am the way I am. I used to be quite confident and outgoing but gradually I have become painfully shy and self conscious. Things have happened over time, I have listed some below, but I have tried to get over them and move on, and I don't see why things that happened ten, twenty or more years ago should still affect me now. I am sensible and rational so should be able to move on, so I don't want to just put it down to the past. And even if it is because of the past, that doesn't help me get over it. I just want to know how I can live a life where I don't hate every fibre of my being, I am really struggling at the moment.

I was sexually abused by a cousin when I was young, under 10.i say abused but I don't remember protesting, and he was only about 18 months older than me, so I don't know if it was abuse or just a kid messing around. I just know I feel awful about it now. I know it's not my fault etc, but I just feel so crushed and ashamed about it.

I had a horrible emotionally abusive bully of a stepdad from the age of 11 to 17, I don't have the wherewithal to go into detail but he was a horrible person. There was finally one awful incident one Christmas and I basically told my mum she had to divorce him. Which she did.

I did ok at school and went to uni, I kind of got on with life but never made any close friends and always felt a bit on the sidelines. I lost my virginity (not counting the childhood sex incidents) when I was overseas at the age of 22. I always had an interest in sex, I wasn't scared of it or anything, but I didn't have much interest from men. I slept with a man who asked me out when I was overseas. In hindsight he kind of used me but I wasn't too fussed, I was moving back to England shortly after to finish my studies.

I was still wanting some kind of sexual attention and ended up on some chat websites. I was incredibly silly, looking back, but I just felt so lonely and sad that talking to people online was a distraction.

I eventually started chatting online to a much older guy, let's call him Mark, who I seemed to get on well with. I really felt we clicked. It then transpired he was in an unhappy marriage. I am not at all proud of myself, in fact I am ashamed of what I did, especially after reading this board at length for the last year or so. I was the other woman and I did an awful thing, I know that and nothing anyone says can make me feel worse about it. I would never do it now.

But I felt so low at the time I convinced myself it didn't matter, and we met for dinner. There was no pressure but we ended up going back to his hotel and sleeping together 3 times. So far, so seedy. He seemed really patient and kind to me and we got on. I made my boundaries clear, no unprotected sex etc. But the next morning we both woke up and he said he wanted me again, and we had sex again. I was so naive and inexperienced that I didn't realise he didn't put a condom on, I was horrified when I eventually realised what happened. There was no danger of pregnancy but there was all the rest. He apologised. We carried on the relationship, I carried on saying I didn't want unprotected sex, he carried on doing it anyway. I brought it up now and again but the response varied between "we've done it now, might as well carry on, I don't have any infections so it's fine" and "you need to be more assertive, you are in control, I won't do anything you don't want to". So I kind of gave up fighting about it. He was only the second person I ever slept with as a consenting adult and I didn't

Around the same time I saw another man who also pretty much made me have unprotected sex with him. It wasn't violent or anything, but I kept saying I didn't want to but he overpowered me and did it anyway. I was upset and it was painful and horrible. And then all of a sudden he turned really nasty, ignored me, said he didn't want to see me. I was upset but had to forget it and move on.

Mark then decided to dump me. I felt sad but I accepted it, I knew what we were doing was stupid and wrong, and I should move on. I did, I started seeing someone else, Joe, who lived a couple of hours away from me. I was really nervous as I still was so inexperienced even though I was nearly 24 at this stage. I had never had a proper boyfriend. But Joe was sweet, he knew about my affair and that I regretted it, but didn't make me feel bad about it. I liked him but my shyness was so crippling. Nonetheless he was patient and quite quickly we started a physical relationship. He pushed things quite far, he liked spanking me and things, but I never felt uncomfortable, and if I ever said I didn't want to do something he would stop straight away. I didn't hate it at all, it was the best sexual relationship I have ever had, but now when I think about it I feel like I am bad for having enjoyed it.

Mark contacted me and asked me how I was. I said I was bearing up ok, I respected his decision etc. He sensed I was sad, asked me why. So I ended up telling him all about the reasons I hate myself, including the things that happened to me when I was a girl. He is the only person I have ever told. He said this is the reason why he liked me, he felt he was destined to meet me to look after me and protect me and blah blah blah. Now I am not a stupid, needy, naive pre-MN 23 year old I realise I fell into a trap of a manipulator, but I did not see this at the time.

I told him about Joe, that it was early days but I met someone. He said it was good and he was happy for me, but then over a few weeks he started saying he felt really sad, he felt like I was cheating on him (!); eventually it got to one night when I was at Joe's house, and out of the blue Mark texts me to say he has told his wife about our affair. That weekend was awful, and ended up with Mark meeting me in Joe's town as I was about to get the train home. He said "I wanted to see you, if you said you didn't want to see me again I was going to kill myself", and showed me a couple of boxes of tablets. I was distraught and ended up taking him to see a doctor and stuff. Somehow our relationship resumed. He saw a counsellor and said he decided that I was the best thing in his life, so he was going to continue seeing me and telling me he loves me.

Every time I tried to cool it off he would come out with another breakdown. Every time I went to see Joe he would have a mini breakdown and say how it felt like something was stabbing him in the heart. After a couple of years Joe moved on, stopped contacting me without telling me he was done, and found someone younger and prettier and probably less stupid and shy than me; I can't blame him.

I never asked Mark to leave his wife or anything like that. He would sometimes say he wished he could find a way for us to work as a three. Writing this down I realise it is so ludicrous and I was so dumb to believe/make myself believe any of it. But I really liked Mark as a person, feel he understood me and was a good friend.

I saw various other people who I met online, I met and had one night stands with about ten different men in about 18 months. But they all did exactly the same thing - seemed to be keen, wanted to meet, were charming, slept with me and then ignored me. I know it was stupid to expect anything more, I know it was stupid to sleep with someone on the first meeting with them, I know I did everything wrong so kind of deserved what I got. But every single person, besides Joe and Mark, who has ever shown an interest in me, has lost that interest after having sex once. Which makes me feel utterly worthless. The sex was usually rubbish anyway, and the men not that great, but I just feel so unlikeable.

Mark did eventually leave his wife, I said I hope it's not because of me. He said no, the marriage had gone sour before I arrived on the scene and was doomed to fail anyway. So he was a free man, but I still didn't want to commit myself to him.

He would not openly say he didn't want me speaking to other men but if I did he'd make little comments about being hurt. I met a guy at work who I was not at all interested in, but went for dinner with just as friends, and Mark was furious about it. He'd try and manipulate me out of it by coming to pick me up even though it was well out of his way to do so. It caused such a horrible atmosphere and made me cry, and I ended up apologising about it.

He still ignored my requests about using contraception. Worse, one morning I was awake, he started to touch me but I said I didn't want to have sex, he carried on touching me. My legs were clamped together and he basically forced them apart and had sex with me anyway. I was quite shocked and not moving, he said he found it hard to have sex with me if I am not responsive. He finished, left for work and I burst into tears. I know this was wrong. I brought this up recently and he asked if I was accusing him of rape, I said no, he got really upset and said he is not a rapist, he would never hurt me, and then I ended up apologising again. I know this is really messed up. He acknowledges that this event happened, and he says his reason for carrying on is that he thought I was just tired. He knows that reason is not good enough. And the more I think about it the more devastated I am that he did this to me knowing all the other times I have been used for sex.

I had enough of his controlling behaviour when he looked through my phone and misunderstood some messages that he saw, I was furious at him invading my privacy and told him our relationship was over. This is when my breakdown started, I basically cried for 3 whole days about everything that I have cocked up in my life. He was there for me and said even though our relationship was over, he was still my best friend and would help me. He got the ball rolling with organising me to see a counsellor, took a day off work to sit with me while I cried and cried. So I am grateful to him for being my friend, and he really is my only friend. But he still longs to be my boyfriend/husband, even though I have told him that's not what I want. It makes it difficult because he still wants to hold my hand and touch me and kiss me, and I feel so guilty for saying no.

I feel torn because having read a lot recently I realise that my relationship with Mark was at best a bit controlling, and I should really ditch this person altogether, but I really do feel like he is my only friend. He is starting to respect my decision about not continuing our relationship, but he still laments what could have been which is draining. I am pretty sure we will not start a romantic/sexual relationship again.

But I have never felt so alone in my life. I am struggling to carry on.

This post is getting a bit long and nonsensical now, I think I will leave it there. I don't know what I am asking.

KateeGee Tue 16-Sep-14 00:08:59

Oh dear that is quite an epically long post, I'm sorry. I don't know why I posted it. It doesn't even make any sense. I am finding things really difficult and don't know how to fix them.

Everstrong Tue 16-Sep-14 01:26:36

Hi Katee, my life is not completely dis-similar to yours. I was abused (though not by a family member) for 2 years from the age of 13.

I spent a large part of my teens and early twenties drifting from one unsuitable relationship to another. Sometimes violent, other emotionally abusive, some sexually abusive. I too ended up being the "other woman" in a completely accidental way. The man I was with managed to keep his wife secret for 2 years!

I'm 28 now, I had a breakdown a few months ago brought on by seeking therapy for my issues. I know now (having spoken to various psychiatrists etc) that it is very common for this to happen when you seek therapy. I (naively) expected that I could tick the one hour a week box and carry on as normal the rest of the time.

I congratulate you for seeking counselling- it can be a wonderful tool but there is that element of opening Pandora's box too.

I am going to be totally honest (though you may not like what I am going to say). Mark is not your friend. Mark is a man who is in it for what he can get whilst at the same time acting as a kind and dutiful friend.

Why do I say this? Well he acts like a friend (sorting out your counselling, taking time off work) but he quickly knows how to put a drain on things for you too (lamenting your lack of a relationship for example). Seriously, I think he'd be top of the list of issues I would want to discuss with the counsellor as his presence is giving you both happiness and pain at the same time. You deserve true friends who want to look after you without any hidden agenda!

I'm sorry that I am rambling on, I can tell you what has helped me on a practical level- little things like decent amounts of sleep, gentle exercise and eating well. It all seems pretty basic but sometimes we need to go back to first principles.

I don't know if you have seen your GP but if not it's worth going to see them (I know pills aren't always the answer but they can act as a support to even things out while you explore counselling.)

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 16-Sep-14 01:44:26

Hi Katie, I read your whole message and just wanted to say you sound great. Your whole life has been a succession of people telling you you're worth nothing, by their words or their actions (sexually assaulting you) - please don't believe them. Mark did rape you, by the way, and I think you both know it. Do you not know any nice women? I think you need strong women around you x

KateeGee Tue 16-Sep-14 02:39:56

Thank you both so much for taking the time to read and reply. I am struggling to sleep now.

Everstrong I'm sorry you have been through similar. I sometimes feel like I am a failure. Other people seem to suffer far worse than I did but go on to lead fulfilling and noble lives. I just feel like a walking mediocre ugly failure who has no friends and can't even get a boyfriend, the best I could do was knowingly shag a married man.

What you say makes total sense. The practical things I take on board. I started exercising a few years ago through dance classes which I love, I do about 6 hours of it a week and adore it. It's my little escape. My sleeping, well it's gone 2am and I am faffing on mumsnet, sleep needs work. My eating is a whole other thread, I have big problems with that. I did eat well for a good while about a year ago and felt great, lost a load of weight and frlt strong and helathy, but then my house of cards fell and I am back into a mess of binging and sometimes throwing up. Every day I tell myself it's a fresh start, I will eat well and be sensible and moderate, every day I fail and binge and feel disgusted at myself. Like I say, perhaps that is for another thread.

My GP is worse than useless. I went to see her about a painful sex related issue, she was slumped over her desk resting on her elbow, sighed and said "what do you want me to do?". The nurses there are equally as bad, one had a go at me for being overweight when my full history of eating disorders was in front of her in my notes. She was really rough and rude and made me bleed in a smear test. Every time I go to the surgery I come out almost in tears. I have thought about changing practice but haven't had much luck with other services locally. My counselling is private, it's pricey but manageable. I have thought about seeing a private GP, maybe they won't make me cry if I am paying them... I don't know if I need medication, but I know it might be worth a chat.

I digress. I know you are right about Mark. I have started talking about him with my counsellor and I know the conclusions. I basically told him if someone else told me my story with different names I would say the relationship was - and he finished my sentence and said abusive. It is so pathetic but I am scared of losing him as a friend. I know real friends don't treat each other like that. But if he is not my real friend, I feel like my entire life is a sham and I have no one.

Elephants no I don't know nice women really. I don't have friends from school. I thought I made really good friends for life at uni but they all have partners now so I am no longer useful to them. I try to be pragmatic and tell myself people's lives change and they grow apart and it's fine, which it is. But there was a group of us in a house together, and they all still meet up for dinners and stuff but I don't get invited. I don't think we fell out but I am at a loss as to why they don’t want me in their lives. I am not as attractive and middle class and rich, I don't have a partner so can't join their couples events, I am too ethnic, I don't know. But it's a pattern, I always get ditched and I don't know what I have done to offend. My counsellor said have I asked them why but how do you possibly say "why don't you want to be my friend?"?

I am fairly close to one of them still, but she's not exactly strong. She has her own problems at the moment with anxiety, and she moans about things in a way that makes me feel crap. Eg she can only afford a one bed flat in zone 2 (I still live with my mum, and can't afford anything despite saving like mad since I started work). Or she goes on about how she has visited the other girls and how beautiful their houses are and how popular they are with the neighbours and how successful their husbands are. I don't want to sound bitter and genuinely wish them well and am pleased they have happy successful lives, but really I don't know why she tells me all this. I don't get invited to the marvellous houses so why would I want to know about them? So, she's my closest female friend but not exactly helpful. And she has very strong views about cheating so I don't think she'd have much sympathy about my affair.

The only strong helpful women I know are strangers on mumsnet. I am simultaneously grateful and weepy about this.

KateeGee Tue 16-Sep-14 02:40:30

I have trouble being concise, evidently

Thumbwitch Tue 16-Sep-14 03:03:44

I'll start with the counselling issue - it's completely normal to sidestep around the big issues to start with. It can take around 2 years to feel able to actually address the problems you have - this is normal (if expensive). You've built a wall between your conscious mind and all the bad things that have happened to you, and taking that wall down is dangerous and scary. You can't expect to knock a socking great hole in the middle of it, because it will just collapse on you - so you pick off the edges slowly. You feel worse because behind this wall are all the horrors that you have hidden away and your conscious mind can see the edges of them - it then shies away from them because they are horrors, and who wants to see that? So you feel "worse" and think counselling isn't working for you, when in fact it most definitely is working.

If you like your counsellor and think that you trust him/her enough to continue with them, then stay with that counsellor. Clearly things are ready to come out from behind your wall, but that will happen only as quickly as you let it. If you're not happy with that counsellor, or too scared to allow yourself to see what's behind your wall, then may I suggest that you find a counsellor/therapist who specialises in NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming). It is sometimes called "life coaching" but you don't need a life coach, you need someone who uses it therapeutically for counselling purposes. It has some amazing tools that allow you to remove the emotion from a situation in your past, so you can address it without being scared or hurt again - I find it truly astonishing what can be achieved using it.

Re. the relationships:
You have very poor boundaries when it comes to sex and men, which is entirely understandable given what has happened to you. You need to break with "Mark" completely - he is not your friend!- even if he is not overtly abusive, he has raped you, he has forced you into non-consensual sex, he is controlling and has threatened to kill himself if you don't co-operate. He doesn't love you - he has a power thing over you and it's completely unhealthy, especially for you. Dump his sorry abusive arse asap. Start to care more about yourself (again, NLP can be very useful for this) and give yourself a feeling of "worth" - then no one will ever be able to treat you like this again.

You can take control back you know - you just need a bit of outside help to show you that boundaries are important and how to put them in place. x

Churchillian Tue 16-Sep-14 03:35:03

I feel really sad reading your post OP. A lot of bad things happened to you when you were younger but these things are not your fault, they were done to you and are still affecting you now.

I'm not sure how long you've been seeing your counsellor for but it can take time to establish trust with a counsellor and open up about bigger issues. Equally if you feel like you can't do this with your current counsellor, you could consider looking for a different counsellor who is more suited for you - don't be afraid to go and see a few if you are paying before deciding.

It doesn't sound like Mark is good for you, but I understand that you might not feel strong enough to cut him off just yet. If you can concentrate on getting better, opening up about the sexual abuse and getting help for your eating disorder, I think this will come in time as will greater confidence in yourself and hopefully some new friendships.

Look after yourself and be kind to yourself. The counselling may take some time to work and whilst I think that you have to feel worse to feel better is a cliche, it will mean talking about things that are difficult. Can your GP refer you for eating disorders and perhaps to discuss getting anti-ds? Perhaps some kind of group therapy might also be useful? Many people struggle with issues about relationships it may not be obvious until you get to know them.

I have been to some of the same places as you re eating disorders and feeling lonely and unloved, being in bad relationships and struggling with my self esteem. I'm in a much better place than I was and my life now is much calmer and happier. Counselling definitely helped me, though it took a few goes to find the right person to talk to, as did volunteering, taking improv classes, meditation and exercise. Obviously you will need to find what works for you such as the dance classes, but I wanted to say that it is possible to come out of the other side of feeling like this and move forward to better things and better relationships.

Catzeyess Tue 16-Sep-14 07:50:23

It sounds like you are on the right road! You are doing really well! Keep going with the counselling. You will never look back.

I think it would help to make some new solid friends, what about someone from your dance class? Is there anyone you like who you chat to who you could invite out for a drink or something? What about doing some volunteering? I help out at a homless lunch at a church on Sundays and have made some lovely caring friends there.

HumblePieMonster Tue 16-Sep-14 08:26:48

I have read the opening post only.

Ditch Mark once and for all. You can’t heal until you get rid of him. He raped you. He pressured you into repeated acts of unprotected sex. He is still manipulating you. He is not your friend.

Contact Rape Crisis to talk about the rapes by Mark, by ‘another man’ and during childhood. You aren’t making a fuss about nothing. Sometimes it takes decades to be strong enough, or deep enough into crisis, to talk about these things.

Whenever you feel guilty about having enjoyed one relationship, with spanker-Joe, stop. You didn’t do anything wrong.

I am no medic and this is not a diagnosis but your mental state sounds so much like the depression and anxiety I’ve experienced in my life that I’m going to suggest you see your GP and ask if you might have those conditions – if you haven’t already done so. The ‘wanting to vanish’ is a dead-giveaway… tell the GP about that.

The concept of ‘friends’ is a troublesome one for many people. The ‘friends’ you see on television or read about in books don’t exist in real life – seeing them sets a false expectation. Sometimes you might have a contact group or network that works well, or sometimes a person you feel close to. But that doesn’t happen to everyone. You don’t need ‘friends’ to validate your existence. Its enough just to ‘be’.

Keep on with the counselling. Nine years and ten counsellors later, I’m just getting to grips with my issues. There are things I talk about now that I would never have spoken about nine years ago. Counselling really helps but you can start slowly and ‘learn’ how to help it work for you.

You are only 30. That’s not so far out of childhood and adolescence. You might live another sixty or more active years ahead. Its worth listening to your inner self, getting the help you deserve, cutting the dead wood out of your life, in order to have a better future.

People can heal. You can. Take tiny steps. Good luck.

Quitelikely Tue 16-Sep-14 10:25:13

Try city socializer if you're looking to meet new friends in your area.

Mark is no friend. He is a bad person. Yes he might have good bits but his bad bits far outweigh them.

I can't see how he is improving your life at all.

SolidGoldBrass Tue 16-Sep-14 10:41:50

Cutting Mark out of your life will help you massively. He is the cause of a large percentage of your problems because he is an abusive predator.
You may have to involve the police or a lawyer to get rid of him, but it's OK to do that. No one has any right to any kind of relationship or contact with you against your wishes.

And the therapy will help but it will take time. Stick with it. But until Mark is gone, it will not be a successful as you need it to be - for one thing, he will soon start sabotaging it.

KateeGee Tue 16-Sep-14 10:49:08

Thank you all for your replies, I really appreciate your time and wisdom. I was feeling teary on the tube to work and am now sat in the toilets trying to stop crying. Feel so crap. I will reply more later. I know you are all correct. It is all so logical and obvious.

I feel so sad that I feel a physical pain in my chest and throat, it's so horrible. It's like something huge is sitting on me and choking me. I am barely functioning, every day I just want to stay in bed but I know if I do that I will never get out again.

What a mess.

treadheavily Tue 16-Sep-14 11:03:03

I agree with thumbwitch about the counselling. Don't stress about not tackling the big stuff right away, talk about whatever you need to talk about that day. Gradually it all comes together and you realise that all the hurt and abuse is in your every day, your every reaction and expectation - and you learn how to make it work better for you.

It is very important that you feel able to trust your therapist and feel supported by them. They may also be able to help you find a better GP because yours is plainly awful. A good counsellor and doctor will, with your permission, talk through ways to help you.

You may benefit from antidepressants and sleeping pills during this particularly challenging patch. Would you consider seeing a psychiatrist? They can be so good, get to the bottom of what's needed, make referrals and write scripts. With a specialist on your side you might get better treatment from a gp or at least be able to bypass them.

KateeGee Tue 16-Sep-14 16:15:38

Today has been a complete write off. I can't stop thinking about everything and can't concentrate, I have answered all of about two emails at work.

Thumbwitch and tread, what you say about taking the counselling slowly is helpful, the wall analogy works well. I've had therapy before - for a couple of years as a teen when my eating disorder came to light - some of it was individual, some group. One was like a social club kind of group, but I didn't find it helpful. I had counselling through work last year but it was only for 8 sessions. I didn't touch on much about my relationship disasters or eating issues, it was very CBT focussed and I found it helped superficially for a short while, but that therapist recommended that I continue treatment elsewhere. I ignored that and then ended up worse than ever a few months later. I was on the waiting list for this private service for months, but finally got offered a regular scheduled slot for up to three years, so I am keen to stick with it. I quite like the counsellor, only been seeing her since June so it's early days, but I feel reasonably comfortable with her. My eating habits came up last week and I disclosed more than I have done before, but I just don't see it as a big deal and don't want to spend months and months analysing the fact that I binge eat and make myself sick. We ran out of time and she suggested we re-visit this week.

I've spoken about the fact that I am unhappy with my eating habits with other counsellors, but never in detail about what I do. Definitely haven't admitted to purging since I was 16, but I have never really stopped, I just do it less often and am more careful about covering my tracks. I have never disclosed what I now know to be sexual assaults that I have experienced. I don't know what talking about them will do to me. I will look into NLP, thank you for the suggestion.

Churchillian you really seem to understand, thank you. And it is comforting to know that you have overcome issues and have found peace and happiness.

I don't know why I feel I can't just escape this man - we're not married, engaged, boyfriend and girlfriend even. We don't have kids together, or live together, or even live in the same city. But I still feel in some sort of grip. It feels so pathetic. I've tried to just disengage and hope he gets bored and moves on but it's almost like he is infatuated with the idea of me, rather than actually wanting me to be happy. I don't believe in love so I don't even feel taken in by him telling me he loves me and I am his soulmate, but he feels like he is the best person for me. When I get upset he goes on about how I build a wall about myself and block people off and stuff, which is true. He says if I only let him in I will heal, but when I let people in I just get completely trampled. I don't know why I feel so dependent on his company. I still like and enjoy his company and feel he is genuinely my friend and really does care for me. I don't want my cynical head to ruin everything. But I know that all of you saying he is not my friend are correct - friends do not rape, friends respect boundaries. I don't know why I didn't stop seeing him altogether after that very first night when he ignored my wishes. Or even after the time he had sex with me when I didn't want to. I know that is not acceptable behaviour but I still carried on seeing him, and sleeping with him even. I am that needy. I made a rod for my own back. I can't say I was passive but I just feel like it was easier to go along with it all rather than have the drama that happened every time I tried to finish it. It's so cowardly of me, I know.

Catzeyess and others, helpful suggestions about improving my social life and meeting people. I have tried some of these but will keep trying. I invited some of the women from my dance class out for my 30th birthday drinks, a few said they would come but dropped out on the night. I don't mind, my birthday is at a busy time of year and they weren't obliged to appear but this happens to me a lot. Since then I have been out on some social occasions with them, it's nice of them to invite me, but I still don't feel that I am close to any of them, though they are all nice people and I like them. I can't see it developing any further.

I recognise that to make friendships work you need to do a bit of the legwork but with my friends from uni, I felt like I was doing all the running, would frequently be let down at the last minute and it would make me feel bad about myself. I invited all my old housemates to lunch one Saturday, they all said they would come. I sent a reminder a week ahead and said a friendly "put it in the diary!". I was going to cook and got some lovely food in. 5 out of 6 of them forgot, and only realised on the day when I asked them what time they would be round. I got 5 texts with variations of "Oh sorry, I forgot! I can't make it now!" I couldn't say anything else but "ok, not to worry", but I was in tears. This was nearly 4 years ago now but it still makes my eyes prickle with tears thinking about it. I am sure it was an honest mistake but it is so hurtful, to feel so disposable by so many people all the time.

So gradually I gave up trying to make the effort, I took the hint that these people are not really interested in maintaining a friendship with me and I had to accept that. Doing anything else would make me a mug.

HumblePie you have very wise words about not needing friends to justify your existence. I am trying to do this, trying to make peace and do things to make my life enjoyable. I go to my dance class, and it's nice while I am there. I have no problems going to the cinema, theatre, or a gig on my own - if I want to see something I will go and enjoy it. Some of this has helped - I tried to do things for the pure enjoyment of doing them, rather than putting pressure on myself to meet people and make friends. And I have tried new things, and had some good experiences, so there has been a positive change in that sense.

It makes for a lonely existence though. It'd be lovely to just have someone to invite round to watch a film with, or go to a club with, or go on a weekend away. I don't have anyone apart from Mark who is interested in hanging out with me. I have made peace to some extent - before I would have missed out on things rather than take the plunge and do them on my own. But I am thinking of going away for my birthday - it would be nice to have some photos of people having a nice time with me rather than just monuments and selfies.

Ah maybe I will grow out of needing to be liked. I know a lot of relationships are temporary, so perhaps I am just taking a shortcut to solitude.

aermingers Tue 16-Sep-14 20:42:48

Katee. I know you've said you're struggling with discussing things face to face with your counsellor but you come across very well in writing.

If you're struggling to verbalize this could you discuss with your counsellor if you could perhaps write it down for her. You could use the things you've posted here as the basis for it.

You've been treated like crap by a lot of people. But one of the things that came across to me in your post is that you're actually being very strong about this, although you're crumbling and suffering you're not breaking down completely but you're being strong and keeping going - you're not letting yourself fall apart. Make sure you're not being too strong though, it isn't a weakness to ask for help or share your burden with other people.

I think you need to realise that none of what has happened to you is your fault. You've been through some really tough times to the point where people have exploited you. You've convinced yourself that you are unlikeable or unlovable and you're not. Some people have an ability to pick up on this weakness and exploit it and I think this is what's happened to you. You really need to work with your counsellor on your self confidence, self worth and self esteem. Once you've cracked that I think the rest will follow naturally.

KateeGee Tue 16-Sep-14 22:37:37

Thank you aermingers. I've always been crap at talking but love writing, have always been a waffly writer blush. Can write for hours. When I had CBT I was told to try keeping a diary, I had to stop as I would just write and write for hours and was losing sleep, mainly because I enjoyed writing, nothing bad. Maybe I should write things down or print this thread to take with me to counselling, just have a starting point at least.

I don't feel at all strong. I feel like a mess. I tried talking about things with my friend that I mentioned further up, but she just says "I know how you feel" and then talks about her problems. I don't mean she is "me me me", she is being empathetic. But she is not someone I can talk through problems with, if that makes sense. And she has her own troubles so I don't want to be pain.

I burst into tears in a meeting with my manager back in March, luckily she and work have been very supportive - she knows I am having some personal problems and they are happy for me to take time off if I need to, leave early for my appointments etc. I don't want to take the piss though. And I partly fear that if I gave into my feelings and decided to take a duvet day, it will be a slippery slope. I feel a bit like that about medication as well.

The rest of what you say makes sense. My self esteem is through the floor. I don't think there is anything left of it to revive.

DeriArms Wed 17-Sep-14 00:12:11

Katee you sound amazing and a true survivor even if you may not recognise that in yourself.
Would you consider the Freedom Programme perhaps?

springydaffs Wed 17-Sep-14 00:53:40

Everything you are going through is like a hall of mirrors reflecting back to you the damage that is inside you - put there by somebody else. But you are separate to the damage - do you see? You are not the damage, you are a whole other thing.

I love your writing! No wonder you can't get enough of it - it's you. I don't want to be sloppy here but you're amazing: you are brave - every single day you are brave (bravo!); you are balanced, sensible, grounded: you consistently make balanced, sensible, grounded choices. Can you see that who you are and what is being reflected back to you from other people are two different things?

But in one sense, though the damage isn't you, it's yours - eg if your leg was broken it would be your broken leg. The people who are reflecting crap back to you are responding to the crap that was put in you by somebody else. I'm referring to your childhood sexual abuse because that's very probably where the crap started.

That stuff grows legs - a whole host of shit gets knitted around it, knitted into our soul. Our soul is still in there, lovely and fresh as ever, but a thicket has grown in it. The only way to get that thicket to disperse is to open it up to the air. And that's not usually straightforward, because it takes delicate and skilled handling. And yes, you do feel worse before you start feeling better. Its monstrously unfair, I agree.

It's the biggest tragedy, and travesty, that we take personally the damage that was done to us. As if the damage wasn't bad enough! We add to it, make personal connections to it ("I don't remember complaining"). You were violated and a strike was made against you: you were innocent. Whether or not your abuser was also a child, they used you for their gratification. Your soul has registered that: the evidence is in what has been playing out ever since.

Please do get in touch with Rape Crisis. It will be painful at times, validating/life-enhancing at others. Its such a shit that we have to peel back painful layers to get to the interloper in our soul. I feel so angry about that. But we get to turf it out and let our soul breathe.

It doesn't last forever, though. There is an end to it, it isn't unrelenting pain the whole way - far from it. Sometimes it's very painful in bursts, but each pain burst is one step closer to freedom. Get with people who know what this is like, meet with people in the same boat ( always helps imo) eg through rape Crisis, and here.

I'm sorry to hear about your awful GP - I commiserate. Perhaps Rape Crisis has a list of sympathetic GPs in your area? You're doing everything right, it just is a fucking journey and we have to climb the fucking mountain. Lots of sunny plateaus on the way though smile

(And as your soul gets cleared of this stuff and starts to sing again you just will start attracting healthy, validating relationships)

Thumbwitch Wed 17-Sep-14 01:23:51

I'm pleased to hear that you get on with your counsellor, that's a great start to a good therapeutic relationship.

Re. your eating disorder - it might help you to realise, if you haven't already, that it is usually a method of taking control back for yourself. So it will be related to your other issues, purely because you didn't feel in control of those situations, and had no way to take control. For this reason I think it is important to allow it to come out in your therapy sessions, because it will be a necessary brick to remove from the Wall - if you don't remove it by discussing it, it will block the next step.

As far as "Mark" is concerned, reading what you've written (very eloquently!) suggests that you almost have a form of Stockholm syndrome - ok, it's usually related to abductors, but works for abusers too.

I agree with a lot of Springydaff's post too - the "stuff" that has happened to you has created a shell around you, once you manage to clear that shell, you will be able to blossom forth yourself. It is all manageable, although it certainly is no picnic going through it - but the end result will be worth it. smile thanks

KateeGee Wed 17-Sep-14 09:23:02

Thanks Deri. I did look at the online Freedom Programme a couple of weeks ago after reading about it here. I made a half arsed start on it but felt like a bit of a fraud and a drama queen. I am not legally or financially tied to this man, nor do we have children together so I shouldn't need help to escape. It should be as simple as saying "this relationship is not for me", I just wish he would accept it. I have given him the option of just being my friend, he says ok but he is still managing to make me feel guilty all the time.

I asked him to stop saying he loves me, as I don't find it helpful, it just makes me feel guilty. Then he said "you can't demand that I deny my feelings". I said straight away that these words are a prime example of how I feel emotionally blackmailed by him - me making a request for something that will help me feel better is twisted into "demanding that I deny my feelings". I asked if he saw how that just makes me feel like a horrible person and under control. I can't remember what his response was.

He asks me for hugs all the time. I have never been a touchy-feely hug kind of person. But even for an emotionally dead person like me, saying no to someone who asks for a hug with a sad face and pleading voice just feels like kicking a puppy. I try to just give him a quick hug or squeeze his hand, but he will hold me really tight to the point that it hurts. He will stroke my head which is supposed to be a nice thing but I hate it. After a while his hands will wander and he will touch my breasts or between my legs, as if it is absent-minded. Then I would move his hand away, or he would catch himself doing it, gasp and say "sorry".

I got annoyed about this and said you are fully conscious of your body, you don't need to touch me there, but he says it is not conscious. Sometimes he does this, says sorry, but then says "your nipples are hard" or "you're wet". I am so annoyed with my body for reacting like that. It sounds so horrible written down.

Last time we met he kept asking for hugs "or can I at least hold your hand?". I relented a couple of times telling myself it's just a hug, but he would either squeeze me to the point that it hurt, or start touching me intimately. Then finally one time he asked for a hug I got a bit short and said "Why?". Then he was upset, said he has times that he feels sad too and sometimes he needs comfoting and sometimes friends need to do things they are not comfortable with to help the other person. On the one hand this made me feel selfish and mean, on the other I was thinking it's the biggest pile of manipulative shit. The latter train of thought won and I ended up having a go saying I don't have to do anything I don't want to, and I don't have to give a reason.

As it happened, I was ill and feverish so couldn't bear another body all over me, he said "well that's a good reason" and I yelled that I don't need to justify myself. He said I don't, but I need to stop thinking he is trying to control me. Then I pointed out how he had controlled me just then - I gave in to his request for a hug, and then he literally moved my limbs one by one so he was basically cradling me like a baby. I said you can't get more controlling than physically controlling my movement. He insisted still that it wasn't control and it was for my benefit - if only I'd let him in he could comfort me. He thinks it is good for me, and I feel bad for rejecting what is supposed to be a kind act of affection, but sometimes I just want my own space.

If it was just a hug I'd do it but it's always so loaded.

I just want the manipulative parts to go away and leave the nice person for me to be friends with. It's not going to happen, is it?

springy!everything you say makes perfect sense, thank you. I will have a think.

Thumbwitch Stockholm Syndrome? sad You may have a point. Gah if anyone else told me about this relationship I'd say "er he is nuts, tell him to piss off". I don't know why it is so hard when you are on the inside though.

springydaffs Wed 17-Sep-14 10:36:04

So the reason you won't respond to him is because there's something wrong with you ?
Yeah, this is what my mindbogglingly abusive ex said about me - I apparently had problems receiving love. Dear God.

Don't waste your breath convincing him - though if you want to say it to hear it yourself then go ahead. He is not going to say 'ah yes, I get it, I'm emotionally and sexually abusing you; blackmailing and exploiting you to the hilt; I rape you and force you to engage with me sexually, using all manner if manipulation; i see I have a serious problem here'. Its just not going to happen.

I felt a fraud when I first looked at domestic abuse. For years I skulked on the sidelines, never engaging with services or groups because I thought I'd be a dog in a manger, they'd be angry with me for assuming a role when I had never been hit (eg). When non-physical abuse started to be recognised I finally made it along to a group, still apologetic and feeling a fraud - to a one all the women who had been hit said they'd prefer it any day to the mind-bending emotional/psychological/etc abuse. Abuse is abuse, and you are being abused by this man. Its also physical.

If you don't feel up to going along to a FP group then do the course online? You will recognise The Sexual Controller. He has raped you, katee - that locates him, where he's coming from. It can be challenging to recognise this stuff alone, though, so keep an eye on that and get some rl expert support where you can eg rape crisis, FP.

Thumbwitch Wed 17-Sep-14 10:41:29

He thinks if you "let him in" he can "heal you"? God. No. It is just control, all of it. He can deny it til he's blue in the face but it's control, and it's also assault. Touching you somewhere you don't want to be touched, especially in intimate places, is assault - and in the breast and between your legs case, it's sexual assault. He is continually sexually assaulting you.

Thumbwitch Wed 17-Sep-14 10:42:52

As a matter of interest, you've twice said now that you have problems with emotions - you "don't believe in love" and you're "emotionally dead" - are these ideas that come from you, or has someone else told you that's how you are?

KateeGee Wed 17-Sep-14 11:25:11

Thanks guys.

He says that it's not only him I block out - he says I build a wall around myself and refuse to trust people and that's why I feel so alone and isolated. He says my family loves me but I won't let them in. But he knows full well that when I let my mum in in the past she betrayed me massively. He is doing exactly the same. But I am supposed to forgive all this because they "love" me. I have said I don't think saying you love someone means that the other person is obliged to trust you unconditionally. I am sure my mother does "love" me, but she still did some pretty dickish things to me. We get on fine now mostly, but I am not close to her emotionally. I prefer it when people show love and care by what they do rather than they say, the only people who have said it to me are people who have damaged me. Actually, Joe said it to me once but I don't think he really did and I told him he was being silly - we hadn't known each other long at all and there was no way he could possibly be in love. I think people quickly think they are in love, but they are in love with the rush of excitement rather than the person.

So I don't believe in love, or at least I don't think I have experienced it. When Mark and I were arranging our second "date" he said he had something to tell me the next time, I had a feeling I knew what he was going to say and was dreading it. And lo and behold, he said he loved me. I smiled. Over time he was saying he felt unloved because I didn't say it back, But eventually I was harangued into saying "I love you" back, which made him the happiest man ever. He says it fills his heart with joy when I say it. A couple of years ago I stopped saying it, he says I don't have to but he will keep saying it to me. I just find it draining, and if that what love is I am not interested in believing in it. He also asks me "do you feel loved?" all the time. I feel obliged to say yes, what else can you say? Saying no opens a can of worms. However, since I have come to the realisation that our relationship was wrong in all sorts of ways, I have pointed this out. I have told him that I am sure he really does believe that he loves me and is not saying it to be malicious, but I cannot believe that some of the things he has done to me come from a place of intense love, they are wrong and I have a right to feel that they are wrong and to say so. He says I am right. But nothing changes.

"Emotionally dead" started as a joke. When I was with my flatmates at uni we were watching some godawful sentimental film, they were all in floods of tears and I was just straight faced and not affected at all, I just thought the whole thing was corny nonsense. They were all saying "why aren't you crying? It's so sad! You have a heart of stone, emotionally dead. " It was all jovial and funny, I played along, they weren't being bitchy or anything. And it crops up now and again. But it was kind of true, I'm not one to show my emotions or discuss things with people, or cry or anything. I try to deal with emotions rationally than just let them happen. I have failed at this more and more recently and seem to be in tears at least once a week.

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