Do I even know how to have a healthy relationship?

  • 3 Replies
  • 327 Views
*

alwayslikethis

  • Member
  • 5
    • View Profile
Do I even know how to have a healthy relationship?
« on: August 28, 2020, 09:48:09 PM »
TW: childhood sexual abuse, abusive relationship

I'm feeling a little more unbalanced than usual because of a variety of factors, but I'm beginning to question if I really know how to have a healthy relationship. I was sexually abused as a child by two people I trusted; watched my mum either have unhealthy relationships with men or swear off men completely; although I always knew my mum cared about me, she was quite emotionally distant when I was a kid and never expressed affection. As a result of all this (and other factors), I spent my childhood and adolescence craving love, but feeling unlovable.

From 16-20, I was involved in really unhealthy relationships with guys who were only interested in sex. I wanted more than just sex, but didn't know how to say that. I worried that expressing my feelings would make them run and I was just so desperate to be loved, I just went along with what they wanted. I tried a few times to resist when they initiated sex, but one of them used to guilt trip me until I gave in and another used to wait until I was really drunk. With both of them, it was excruciatingly painful and I'd feel confused, upset and a little violated, but also desperate to sleep with them again to please them and make them love me. Both of them kept me at arms length and made it clear that they didn't want anyone to know that they were sleeping with me, which made me feel like I'm something to be ashamed of -- like, maybe it's embarrassing to be attracted to me?

After my last relationship at 20, I vowed to spend some time alone, to work on myself, to like myself more, to learn how to establish clear and healthy boundaries, and to raise my standards. I spent 4 1/2 years single, not even dating and I thought I'd made good progress. I started a new relationship earlier this year and, for 3 months, it was the healthiest relationship I've ever known. I've never felt so respected by a man and, actually, I'm not sure I've ever felt more respected by anyone than I did in those first three months. He NEVER pressured me to do anything and he always checked in to see how I was and he was so nice I sometimes found myself wanting to cry because I just never realised how nice it felt to be treated like that. I felt like an equal partner in the relationship. Then Covid blew up and we went on lockdown. We couldn't see each other and it activated my old insecurities. I found myself getting super needy, messaging all the time, trying to get him to talk to me about his feelings. He became really distant and closed off. We broke up 3 months into lockdown (after 6 months in total together). It was the most respectful, amicable and peaceful break up I've had, but less than a month afterwards I found out he was back on Tinder and I feel like I'm back at square one. I feel like I'm desperate to be loved, but I also feel disgusted when people are affectionate towards me, so I choose emotionally unavailable men who always stay a little bit detached. But I end up feeling worthless and unlovable when they don't give me the love and affection I crave -- especially when they all said to me they weren't ready for a relationship and then jumped into a relationship/onto Tinder immediately after breaking up with me.

Sorry for the long, rambling post, but I just spent a week with my family and it's given me a lot to reflect upon. I'm not sure I've ever had a healthy relationship and, even when I thought I finally did, it circled back to the dynamic that I'm used to: chasing and pulling away. Part of me wants to move on and seek a healthy relationship, but part of me is scared of getting hurt again and there's a part of me that thinks maybe the problem is me and that people are better off without me in their lives.

*

Blueberry

  • Member
  • 6879
  • 'Should' is never good for me.
    • View Profile
Re: Do I even know how to have a healthy relationship?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2020, 07:52:25 AM »
I'm sorry for the hurt you feel after the last break-up. It's understandable too. Here is a gentle :hug: if it feels good to you. Otherwise ignore.

It sounds as if this last relationship was much, much healthier than the previous ones. Look at the way he treated you during the relationship! And look at the way you felt! You really upped your standards too :cheer:

Covid has been difficult for tons of people, even for people who've been in longer-term relationships and who don't have cptsd on top of it all. So it's no surprise Covid's triggering old behaviour patterns in some of us, like you feeling needy again.

I'm not sure that I know how to have a healthy relationship either (!) but I'm pretty sure I could only find out by trying and then practising setting boundaries. That's what you have been doing. So kudos to you :thumbup:

I'm sure that people are generally not better off without you in their lives! That sounds like your Inner Critic talking. See here https://cptsd.org/forum/index.php?topic=2592.0

*

Three Roses

  • Member
  • 3461
  • CPTSD is an injury, not an illness.
    • View Profile
Re: Do I even know how to have a healthy relationship?
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2020, 02:33:46 PM »
I cannot add anything to what Blueberry has said. But - your experiences with this have brought back memories of my own youth, please know there is hope and healing for you. We care.  :hug:

*

alwayslikethis

  • Member
  • 5
    • View Profile
Re: Do I even know how to have a healthy relationship?
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2020, 04:25:28 PM »
Thanks to both. I woke up feeling much better this morning and started my day off with a Zoom exercise class, which helped a lot. No time to overthink and feel sad while you're lunging and squatting! I think Blueberry was right about the inner critic. I think it didn't help that I'd just spent a week with my family, thinking about family dynamics and past traumas. I didn't get to spend a lot of time with my mum and then snapped at her just before I left - got myself into a funk where I wanted to be kind and enjoy the time I had with her, but found it really hard to stop being snappy and defensive. I always end up feeling a lot of guilt when I get into one of those moods, so I had a big cry when I got home and started thinking a lot about my relationship which recently broke down. I've been finding it harder to move on than I have in the past and I think that's partly because it was so good and partly because I've been generally quite depressed recently, but I'm scheduling some therapy for myself next week, so I'm feeling more hopeful for the future.

I just needed to vent/wallow a bit last night. Thank you for listening :)