Join Date: Nov 2012
I'm 32, my parents split up when I was 5. There was a messy divorce. I didn't see my Dad for 18 months after this. When custody arrangements were agreed, I started to see my dad every fortnight for the weekend. During the whole time when I was growing up, my parents constantly bickered with each other, using me and my brothers as pawns and weapons against each other.
Then when I was 11, I went to live with my dad and I didn't see my mum for 18 months. I have two elder brothers, both of whom are married, one has children. Both are quite close to each other but me being the youngest, I always felt like the outcast, like I was living in their shadow. My father was very quick to praise the eldest son, who I grew up resenting as I felt the praise was unwarrented and reinforced my belief that he was the favourite. I tried to get my father's attention and praise, but that wasn't forthcoming. I soon turned to doing 'bad' things, thinking that negative attention was still attention. I hung out with the wrong crowd, casually shoplifted, did drink and drugs. Not the best years of my life.
At 21 I moved away from home and shacked up with a girl I met after one date. She was a single mother and had plenty of issues of her own. At first, everything was okay, I did what I always do in relationships and put her on a pedastal, But after 2 years of struggles, her praise for me stopped. I felt like I was doing everything for her and getting very little reward back. This is a recuring theme which will become apparent. I started to flirt online to get the praise, reassurance and confidence I needed. One of this online encounters was taken too far, I arranged and met another girl in a different town. After this, I broke up with her and moved back to my Dads.
I started dating the girl I met, once again putting her on a pedastal. Things progressed and I eventually moved into her parent's house with her. However, all is not what it seemed. She was devious and manipulative. I ignored or minimised warning signs, refused to listen when friends pointed out the obvious. She would cheat on me behind my back and openly flirt with men infront of my face. When confronted with it, she would then pin the blame squarely on me, I would accept this blame, eventually convincing myself that it was my fault. We would go through cycles of her breaking up with me, me chasing after her and begging her to stay and her eventually coming back to me, provided I accepted all the blame for everything.
But it would get far worse. She would cut herself on the arms with razor blades, show them to other people and say that I had done it. I was arrested for this once. She would bruise herself and say that I had beaten her. She would threaten me with knives and swords if she didn't get her way. She demanded my attention, my gifts and praise and threaten me if I didn't comply. She then began to openly arrange to met other men and told me that if I knew what was good for me, I would comply. Our sex life became virtually non-existant as she spurned my affections, but then she would also use sex as a method of getting things from me. I had no escape route, nowhere to run to, no-one to talk to. I unfortunately stayed in this toxic situation for five long years. I eventually did break free from her with the help of her friends. They told me all about the things she was doing behind my back.
A few months later, I started a relationship with another girl, this time in Birmingham. Things were also great at first although the previous ex was still attempting to contact me and cause problems. Distance and trust eventually caused more and more problems, the praise I was recieving stopped and quickly turned to critcism. Unable to deal with the criticsm, I found myself resenting her. My efforts were unappreciated and I looked for praise elsewhere. Finding it quickly but at the same time, it was also extremely toxic (see relationship above). By now, I had broken up with the Birmingham girl, however the new girl quickly stopped appreciating me and dumped me soon after. Unable to cope being on my own with no support, I quickly turned my attentions back to the Birmingham girl. I became obsessed with winning her back, unable to look after myself. I couldn't eat or sleep, my issues soon caused problems at work. I was eventually forced to take leave. My doctor diagnosed severe emotional shock, I was told to live with my family for a while. I did so, but it didn't help. I was still obssessed spending hours upon hours re-analysing everything she said to me, waiting for a glimmer of hope.
I did eventually win her back, things were okay for a while. I moved to Birmingham to live with her sister. However, things started to turn sour once more. Despite repeated attempts, I couldn't get employment in Birmingham. Praise once again dried up, criticism came. I was alone and isolated once more. Unable to talk to her about the issues I was having for fear of pushing her further away. I found myself resenting her as my efforts were unappreciated. I began to do what I always have done, look online for praise. I eventually started talking to a married woman from Dudley who was having her own issues with her husband. In our conversations, my anger and resentment for my partner flowed out and I took it out on her. She willingly allowed this as she craved attention which her partner wasn't giving her, however humilating and degrading. Our talks were horrible and involved a lot of humilating sexual behaviour. She asked me if I wanted to meet up and I agreed. We did have intercourse. But after I regretted my behaviour and cut down talking to her. I attempted to compensate for my unfaithfulness by doing everything I could for my partner. I found a job and recieved praise for my attitude and work ethic. She became pregnant but miscarried a few days after we had announced it to our friends and family. Shortly after this, my partner discovered my infidelity by reading my chat logs on my computer. Initially, I lied to cover up what had happened, but after it became apparent that she knew everything, including events that went back years, I confessed to it.
She tried to stand by me and tried to understand my reasons for it while continuing our relationship. I found myself unable to explain my actions to her. Her trust in me was destroyed and she was unable to build new trust. She placed restrictions on me including not using computers, not talking to anyone and getting help for my issues. I wasn't even allowed to talk to my male friends about the issues I was having. My own confidence and self esteem dropped and I was once again unable to complete basic tasks. Our relationship was fragile, balanced on a knife edge. I knew that one false move and she would leave me. For the last few months it's been a cycle of me apologising for everything that happens, regardless of whether it was my fault or not, while at the same time being hit over and over again with the infidelity in various guises.
Now the last few weeks things have become a bit more stable and as a result, I had a bit more confidence. My own cycle of self-criticism, low self-confidence, low self-esteem was beginning to break. Regulars at the pub I work at were praising me for the job I was doing. A new starter made me realise I wasn't as bad as I thought I was. It felt good. When a friend I hadn't spoken to for months contacted me, we began a conversation that initially was about how I was doing. Over the course of a few hours, it became flirty and I went along with it. However, this conversation was discovered a few days later by my partner who saw it as cheating and left me again.
I need help to discover why I have these cycles in my life. To identify the cause of the constant need for praise, low self-esteem, lack of confidence. Why I am unable to look after myself but over-compensate by doing everything for others. Why I am unable to express my feelings to my partners for fear of them leaving me. Why I look to others when my needs aren't being met or ignored by my partner. Why I stay in toxic relationships longer than is healthy and in particular what damage was caused to me by my second partner's abuse.