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Horrible abuse background + new relationship(7 Posts)
I had an awful, awful childhood. Few people know about it because the details are hard to stomach. I have made a good life for myself, not only despite the past but sometimes because of it. I am happy now.
Two years ago I met a man and we dated very casually, it took me over a year to allow exclusivity chat (commitment issues from childhood) but I got there. He is wonderful. I mean really wonderful. He's my safe place.
The only problem I've observed between us is that he has become, since we became exclusive and started to fall in love, absolutely terrified of my "past".
When we were more casual, he would often listen to me talk things through, regarding my previous marriage, how divorce was going etc. And during that time I did sketch out the bare outline of certain childhood events, I didn't feel ready to tell the whole story (knowing how it had been used as a weapon by my ex - e.g. CSA must have been my fault because I was a whore by nature etc.). He was supportive and kind about everything.
Then we started to fall in love and looking back I can see how it changed. Now, if I even mention my childhood in a general way, he will stiffen and try to steer me away from talking about it. If I am quiet/thinking about something, he becomes fearful that I'm dwelling on something from the past, will try to distract or cajole me.
I've talked to him about this, I've said I can see how he struggles. He says that before, it was easier because he didn't love me yet. Now he loves me and he feels like he needs to rescue me from thinking about the past, make it up to me by building a lovely life with me.
I've told him that he's not helping by doing that, that I feel like I should put on my happy face so that he won't be upset. He hates that he's made me feel that way but he continues to be avoidant and build it up more and more in his head. I don't think it's conscious.
But I can't cope with it anymore. I feel like I am carrying a bomb around with me and he is constantly in a sweat trying to defuse it. I have tried to just TELL him before but every time I pluck up the courage, he tries to stop me from talking about it (in an indirect way) and I feel like my heart might break.
We are going on a city break next week and I am thinking about just bringing it up and saying, listen, we are making "the past" into this huge big THING with so much power so today I'm just going to tell you the whole story, from beginning to end, and then you know. And you'll know me better for it. And we can move on, or not I suppose.
I am afraid because of my ex that my past will ruin my life again, in a fun new way this time, with someone who I can barely stand the thought of losing.
What if it really is too much, and he can't stand it and we have to pack it in? I suppose I just have to accept the risk?
If anyone has any advice or will hold my hand about this, please, I am in need
If this relationship is going to work then both parties have to be open with one another and of course at times this can be uncomfortable but that builds intimacy. Do you have any idea what he could be so uncomfortable about? When I read your post my first thought was that a) he is not good with complex emotions (like many men), b) he is concerned about having to share perhaps his own difficult past, c) if you get very upset talkIng about the past he may not feel as though he can help you. Do you know much about his background? Is he good at expressing feelings? My DH has had a similar journey with me. He is really not emotional at all and it’s been hard for him to understand when I’ve shared painful stuff but we’ve worked through it. I would also say that I haven’t shared everything with my DH. That was reserved for my counsellor as there are just some things about my past I don’t want my DH to know about as they are really unpleasant and it doesn’t serve any purpose for him to know. It doesn’t make him know me any less because of it. Obviously if he asked me questions about it then I would be 100% open with him.
My DH has struggled with my past.
When I first told him he was an audience, it wasn’t a conversation. He never mentioned it again after that until I broke down and then asked why. He said he didn’t want to upset me by talking about it but I’d wanted to talk about it and he kept shutting me down by trying to distract me.
It hurt him that I was hurt.
He was scared I’d fall apart if I faced it and he wouldn’t be able to help.
I’ve tried explaining I need to face things and confront them to deal with it and feel better. He’s still not been able to be that for me so I’ve gone to counseling for that. I should also add that he’s like this got him too. He clams up and try’s to distract himself and not think about things in his life, which obviously hasn’t worked, so I have learnt not to take it personally. That’s how he is and it’s as hard for him to change that as it is for me to try to internalise things. Not easy so we can only accept that about each other and look outside the relationship when we aren’t able to offer support for each other as needed.
Do you have any idea what he could be so uncomfortable about?... Do you know much about his background? Is he good at expressing feelings?
His mum is chronically ill and the children learned to comfort her by distracting her with gifts, cheerful stories, sweet behaviour. I have pointed out to DP that he is treating me like he treats his mum, despite me not being like his mum, and he agreed with me, he knows intellectually that he does it but it's very deep seated iyswim.
In the moment, when he thinks I am about to become upset, I can see he experiences genuine terror. He physically sweats. I have seen his face change - he goes like a terrified little boy for a moment - and then he gets himself under control - he comes by it all honestly which makes it even harder to deal with tbh.
He readily concedes that there are a whole host of feelings he has stuffed down since childhood, that he is pretty scared of feeling (has not cried for 20 years etc). I think he imagines how he would feel if he "had to" talk about something that would make him cry, and he can't stand the idea that I would put myself through something that would scare the shit out of him, only for his benefit iyswim?
So we do talk about the mechanism of it all. Why he acts like this. It's just it's all so subconscious in the moment, he goes on autopilot and just won't let me talk about it when I try.
Or maybe I just need to bulldoze over his objections, to not let him not let me?? Maybe I just have to be destructive and let the chips fall where they may.
there are just some things about my past I don’t want my DH to know about as they are really unpleasant and it doesn’t serve any purpose for him to know
I felt like this was a possible way for me to see things as well, until a few months ago when I was massively triggered by something DP did, I got myself together quickly but it was awful for him, like he had stepped on a landmine (it was a very innocuous action, I did not take it in context or proportion). That day is what caused me to decide that I needed to tell him.
Joysmum it sounds like my DP has some similarities to yours...
I am OK with never talking about it again after I tell him. I just feel like I need to tell him so that he knows some context about me? I feel so alone with my memories.
Maybe I will always feel alone with them and that's just part of the injustice of being a survivor
My situation is different as the trauma and triggers stem from a previous relationship, not childhood. But I don’t know if it’s appropriate to talk about everything to my boyfriend. Simply because the burden is then huge for him. And he needs to understand and also relationships I guess are based on being able to share, but at what point does it become too much?
I really don’t know the answer but I haven’t told my boyfriend everything (neither do I want to really). I see a counsellor still from time to time (privately) because it helps me unload or deal with the past and maybe keep a balance with him too. Do you do that already? If not maybe it would help?
From what you write it sounds like the weight of everything is becoming too much for you both?
My DH knew about my history of child abuse from fairly early on, but I only recently told him about a lot of other things and we've been together 10 years. I think he understands me a lot more now. I wouldn't talk about it on your holiday but I would discuss it before or afterwards, especially if it's likely he could do things innocently that will trigger things for you.
I can understand now why he reacts to you the way he does. You are triggering things within him in the same way he at times triggers things within you. It sounds like a very sad situation to be in for both of you. I’m sorry if this next question sounds rude but I will ask it as gently as I can. Do you think this chap is for you? It sounds to me that you both have a lot of quite complex background issues that need healing and whilst I know that everyone brings to a relationship past hurts/issues, it sounds to me as though there are too many for this relationship to thrive at the moment. Its easy for me to say but if I was in your shoes I’d take a break from things for a while whilst you both have some thereapy to heal these hurts. I know what it’s like to be triggered and if both parties are triggering as it were then that makes for a very difficult relationship all round.
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