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Marriage ended and I realise I have no idea what I even like or want anymore

(23 Posts)
thestamp Sat 23-Jan-16 22:54:48

I posted about my marriage ending here

summary version, my ex was jealous, controlling and critical for 10+ years and i spent most of that trying to prove that i was worthy of better treatment but i finally gave up mid oct last year.

Can anyone talk to me about losing yourself in a marriage? or just hear me out? need to ramble...

I feel like I have such a tenuous grasp on what is important to me, what I actually value, what i like/enjoy. i've spent so much time bending to someone else's needs and wants that i feel like i have been erased.

i used to be a confident public speaker. i used to love going to events. i used to love being around people. now i find myself intimidated and anxious. i hate this. i want myself back. i am so resentful that i have changed. maybe i would have changed anyway...

i also find that i am attracted to men who think badly of me/are critical of me. isn't that very very sad? but of course i would feel that way, since my h trained me to come running whenever he found fault with me.

i was really disturbed to realise i'd developed a crush on a man i know (over xmas when i was very lonely and sad as detailed in the linked thread)... but when i sat down and thought about it...

i don't even like him!! i'm not attracted to him physically even.. on top of the fact he's a bastard! i would never want to be with him! BUT he is emotionally closed off and grumpy... which is what my ex is like... i realise i seem to take it as a challenge? i feel like i need to prove my worth/general loveliness to this kind of man.

i don't even like that kind of man!!!! this is what i mean... i feel so frustrated with the habits i have in my mind. i want to be with someone warm, caring, engaged, a proper grown up.

or do i even want to be with anyone?? argh. maybe even the whole "i should have another relationship eventually" thing is a habit of mind.


Not sure what my question is. just so frustrated with where i am. i want to be happy. i have been unhappy for so long.

BolshierAryaStark Sat 23-Jan-16 23:02:02

Ramble away, always someone around on MN...
I think you need to step away from men/women/relationships in general & just become comfortable in your own company, perhaps have counselling for the low self esteem that comes through in your OP?

queenofthepirates Sat 23-Jan-16 23:35:08

I agree with Bolshier, what does make you happy? Focus on that and heal yourself for a bit before you look at new relationships, you'll feel a whole lot better xxx

1DAD2KIDS Sun 24-Jan-16 01:02:38

I can't definitely associate with the feeling of not know my self anymore or more to that point what I want from a relationship. My ex had me conditioned and I never really noticed it. There were somethings over the years that made me question her veiw on the world. But on the whole I was happy in her version of reality. It's only resently (with the help of my therapist) i have come to realise I had been sort of brain washed for some years. I am now de - programed and seeing our relationship in a new light. To burst out the bubble I was in back to reality is scary. It's leaves me with so much self doubt in my ability to chose a future partner. It has taken some time but finally I am finally back in tune with my gut feelings and not the voices of others.

I don't know I want anymore. For me I just aim to get out there. Go on some dates and meet some people. Hopefully rediscovered what I like and what I don't. I am a new me, a product of my former marriage. I need to embrace the new me and discover what I want. Most importantly I need to follow my gut instincts. It's a brave new world and I intend to explore it.

Just remember the old system didn't work so don't go back to the same type of man. A least you reconise this. Be strong, don't fall back into old ways and continue to de-program your self from this type of man.

Don't you think it's time a man proved his worth to you instead?

Destinysdaughter Sun 24-Jan-16 01:10:32

I agree maybe stay away from men until your self esteem has recovered a bit. You've already noticed an unhealthy tendency to need to prove you're worthy which is not helpful to you. What sort of things did you use to enjoy, hobbies, pursuits, travelling? I think you need some goals and to rediscover yourself. There are a lot of self development courses, retreats etc out there which could give you a boost. It's time to focus on you again, be kind to yourself and give yourself time to heal ( sorry if any of that sounds trite, and I haven't read your original thread )

Destinysdaughter Sun 24-Jan-16 01:34:37

Just read your linked thread and am so impressed with you! You're so articulate, intelligent, insightful and strong. And you express yourself beautifully. You have got so much going for you and so much to offer the world, you really need to see that in yourself and value it. And just give yourself time, it's a massive life change you're going through so be easy on yourself. You've done the right thing by leaving but it will take time to adjust. Hugs to you.

GarlicBake Sun 24-Jan-16 03:42:39

Oh YES! I vividly recall standing in the middle of Sainsbury's with my trolley, on the verge of tears because I couldn't remember what food I like! The realisation that I'd completely overwritten my own tastes with his was horrific.

I ended up buying loads of new stuff to try. It took hours and cost a fortune grin

Too late to type everything bubbling now in my brain, so I'll make some recommendations: do the Freedom Programme and find a therapist if you can afford it.

And congratulations! flowers star smile

Heartbroken4 Sun 24-Jan-16 03:53:03

Standing here wih you, thinking much the same.

Joy69 Sun 24-Jan-16 07:35:23

You have just put into words how I am feeling. I always seem to attract/ fancy? men similar to my ex. Am now trying to take a step back before I jump into the same old. Hard when you're used to a certain thing.
Im going it alone for now, don't trust my own judgement.

sugarsinner Sun 24-Jan-16 07:44:13

I've just finished reading "how to do everything and be happy"
I'd recommend you read it.

BusyCee Sun 24-Jan-16 07:48:13

What a change you've been through. I'm not surprised it's time to take stock.

It had a slightly similar experience - in that as a result of divorce and bereavement I suddenly found myself feeling alone and questioning where to go and what to do next. I found The Games People Play by Eric Berne unbelievably helpful. It describes transactional analysis, and helped me to understand some patterns of behaviour that had caused me discomfort. More than that, once I 'got' it I could usefully do things differently

I don't know whether this is helpful or not, but in retrospect I think starting from 'scorched earth' was quite helpful for me. Having lost the big crutches meant I'd been through the worst and so I was less frightened of 'getting it wrong'. I sort of had it all to play for. I began to make decisions I would never have made before (I had been dreadfully risk averse which meant I kept tight control because I was permanently fearful).

Good luck to you. It sounds as though you're in the eye of the storm right now so helpfully the only is, you know, up thanks

ishouldcocoa Sun 24-Jan-16 07:49:51

I think you should just enjoy getting to know and accept the 'new' you before embarking on any more relationships - although full marks for recognising that you'd be heading back to a similar man if you're not careful!

YY to some therapy, and finding a new hobby.

Be gentle on yourself.

Oh, and well done for getting this far flowers

RudyMentary Sun 24-Jan-16 07:50:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TooSassy Sun 24-Jan-16 08:10:18


I just read the whole of your other thread. Well done you. thanks

So here's my tuppence worth. You're putting a lot of pressure on yourself. You've been through an exceptionally traumatic few months (on top of an exceptionally traumatic marriage). Relax. You are processing a lot of emotions right now and I honestly think you need some time.

I split from my STBXH and it was been a god awful 5 months. I've had to keep it together for work and my DC's. Do you know that for the last month or so, I spend the weekends I don't have the DC's sleeping? Not because I'm depressed, but because I am EXHAUSTED. I'm recovering. You will be too. Please don't underestimate the physical and physiological impact this whole process will have had on your mind/ body.

You have the rest of your life to figure out what makes you happy. And what a good potential future partner looks like. You are young and clearly highly intelligent. Give yourself time to heal.

I think you're amazing OP. You'll be just fine. Well done for recognising a pattern in who you pick.

Rest and book that holiday with chambermaids! Sounds lush! grin

isthismylifenow Sun 24-Jan-16 09:01:05

the I am also feeling like you are so I don't really have any advice, but I have taken a lot from the replies you have received.

I didn't know who I was or what I wanted. What I DID know was what I wasn't and what I didn't want.

Start there, when you are happy with yourself the rest will follow.

Rudy makes so much sense.

BusyCee Sun 24-Jan-16 10:30:30

Stamp I've been thinking about you all morning. I just wanted to say that 10yrs on I'm enjoying this morning in my own kitchen, actively and mindfully enjoying a coffee, with a family I didn't think I'd have around me. It's taken time, and it doesn't look like I thought I wanted it to look, but it's good. And maybe all the better for having worked for it. I'm confident that I'm a better person for it. A cliche I know. But I wanted to say as painful as it is now you WILL get through and to a far better place. Good lord, you've done all you've done, what strength!, the next step is all about you. Good luck and please be kind to yourself. thanks

pocketsaviour Sun 24-Jan-16 12:19:59

BUT he is emotionally closed off and grumpy... which is what my ex is like... i realise i seem to take it as a challenge? i feel like i need to prove my worth/general loveliness to this kind of man.

Was one (or both) of your parents like this? Withholding affection unless you could "prove yourself"?

DespicableBee Sun 24-Jan-16 14:40:45

It's good you've realised you're attracted to men who treat you badly
Maybe in the future you will choose a man who respects you
In the meantime, spend time working on you, making you happy

redexpat Sun 24-Jan-16 14:47:25

I second the 'how to do everything and be happy' book suggestion. Bloody love that book.

Any chance you could go on holiday or travelling? That always gave me a boost.

GarlicBake Sun 24-Jan-16 17:10:04

I still have a 'lust trigger' for gloomy, narcissistic men. You know, the ones emanating a sort of controlled negativity! It's okay. I will probably have this all my life - my awful father was similar. But now I recognise what it is, take an emotional step backwards and look more carefully with a critical eye.

Learning to appreciate genuinely nice & decent men - even to recognise them, actually - has been quite a long process because I had to figure out how to gain the missing experience (thank you, MN!!)

I heartily second the recommendations for Games People Play and an air ticket!

I haven't read the "How to ..." book and the titles scares me wink I can't do everything! But I've put it on my list now.

N3wYear2016 Sun 24-Jan-16 18:23:26

Spend some time on your own doing things you like

Try some new things

Meet some new people

Join some clubs, volunteer, travel, visit friends and family

You will soon make a list of what you like and what you dont like

thestamp Mon 25-Jan-16 21:50:47

You're putting a lot of pressure on yourself. You've been through an exceptionally traumatic few months (on top of an exceptionally traumatic marriage). Relax. You are processing a lot of emotions right now and I honestly think you need some time.

Thank you for writing this. I needed to read this quite badly.

I still have a 'lust trigger' for gloomy, narcissistic men.

YES! This is what it is.
Seeing you just write it here has helped me so much. That's what it is! It's a lust trigger. It's just a trigger. I'm not fundamentally broken. I just need to notice my triggers.

Here's the thing... I was sexually abused as a child and the perpetrator was narcissistic and gloomy. And my h was the same (even very similar physically). But I was 19 when i met my h, still a child in many ways. So of course I would allow a trigger to morph into an attachment without stopping it immediately. i was too young to see any patterns. i just wanted to be loved and naturally i thought that the way to do that was to prove to this person, that i was so attracted to, that i was wonderful.

it's normal and natural for me to be attracted to the type who resembles the first person i had sustained sexual contact with (putting aside whether that contact was abusive or not -- it was still contact and it's unavoidable that some "imprinting" takes place).

I've just bought the how to be happy book. it looks like something i def need to read. thanks for that suggestion.
Also ordered a couple of books on codependence a few mins after I started this thread.

it's ok for me to feel messed up and broken. that's what i keep saying to myself. it's ok to hurt. i don't need to run away from it or wish it away.

Heatherjayne1972 Tue 26-Jan-16 18:55:38

Counselling and your friends - that's what you need. Accept every invitation to go out and do stuff with them. For the short/ mid term forget romantic relationships Concentrate on you You'll get there The real you is still in there somewhere

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