If anyone can offer me guidance and hope I would really appreciate it.
I have been in a relationship with a woman for about 2-1/2 months now. We are both 35. Things have been really good until the past 2 weeks. We did rush into this a bit and grew very close very quick, but the connections are real. I am a relatively healthy person physically and emotionally. I know the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. I have focused most of my energy for the past 5 years on becoming healthy.
I spent the weekend at my girlfriend's house two weeks ago and it was the most intimate and close our relationship has ever been. We spent most of time sharing and talking. There was one encounter of physical intimacy but we stayed conneted the whole time, talking and playing as it should be. I have spent nights at her house before and some signs of what I'm going to share were present but not nearly as intense.
On the weekend in question, my girlfriend opened up to me in ways she never has. She even sobbed in my arms at one point. It was anquish for me because I see her pain. There have been other times as well when I share my feelings for her and she will get tears in her eyes.
I'm pretty sure that she has PTSD. Her mother was sick and in hospital when she was very young. When she was 6 her father was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gherig's Disease). For the next 8 years, she watched him waste away and die. Her mother was emotionally unavailable and she has told me she felt all alone - understandably.
At age 16 she moved to London. She will not share the details of her time there. She did tell me of a 6 month period where she was involved in the drug and music scenes. She had a boyfriend who bullied her into sex at age 17. She said she did it just to get it over with. She said it was horrible.
She has had 2 serious boyfriends and both cheated on her. She has sought reassurance from me many times that I would not bail on her. When I have told her how much I care, she says "I hope that's true" or "So you say".
I have seen her take emotional risks and begin confronting some of her issues but I'm not sure to what degree.
I suspect there is a lot more to the story but even if not all this is enough. I am pretty confident that the relationship we are now in is the healthiest either of us has ever had. We complement one another very well.
The day after our intimate weekend my girlfriend was very cold and distant. She was even hostile towards me. I didn't press her because before this point whe would have episodes of distance after being intimate (both physically and emotionally). The pattern has usually been that we would hang out, she would be distant but 30 minutes after I left her she would phone and say she doesn't want me to think she doesn't care for me deeply because she does. She just has trouble sharing her emotions.
This time it was different. The next day showed little change so I pressed her on the issue. She got even colder and exploded at me. I didn't understand what was going on so I exploded back. I realize this was a big mistake. She just kept saying that she felt confused, overwhelmed, smothered and needed time. I offered to give her a couple of weeks and strangley enough, she grew even colder after I said that.
This has gone on for about 10 days now. We went to lunch on Sunday and talked. She is unable to get too deep into the actual emotions of what is happening and denies she's in pain, vehemently denies it. She will only say she is confused, uncomfortable and feels smothered. She says our relationship is unhealthy but I have gone over and over every aspect of how we relate and discussed it at lenght with my therapist. He and I both agree that the facts do not match her current reality. The relationship is the exact opposite of how she is describing it. We communicate well (or did), we both compromise, we disagree but are civil, we share common interests, common friends, common spiritual beliefs, we truly enjoy each others company and connect on many levels.
She started therapy about 2 weeks after we met because she said she knew she always sabotaged her relationships and didn't want to do it this time because she felt this one was different from her former experiences. I know she went to therapy last week but suspect she cancelled this week.
On Sunday she was ready to demote me to 'friend'. She said she thought we went too fast and that things were too intense. Things have not been any more intense than they normally would be. I listened to all she had to say and was very understanding but I offered an alternate solution, that being to go on a date, like we did the first couple of weeks. She seemed relieved by this idea.
While we were together on Sunday, all of her words were mixed with should I stay or should I go but her body language was 100% "don't leave me".
I'm in a lot of pain not only from fear of losing her and missing her tremendously, but also in pain for her because I remember my own agony when I was unable to identify the source of my anxiety and couldn't explain my confusion and my own behavior. I thought I was going crazy and would tell myself things like "I'm too needy to feel this way. I need to just try harder".
My girlfriend is not ready to see her pain or her own predicament. She is trying to project it onto external stimuli. She is trying to project it onto me but is confused and frustrated because the image her psyche is projecting doesn't match what her eyes and experience can see. As a result she is distancing and trying to re-establish an independence that she never actually lost. I have never crowded her. I've given her plenty of space because I value my space and like independent, strong women. I have 4 sisters, 2 of which have been raped. I am not a stranger to women's security issues. I have always been mindful to give her as much emotional space as possible and to respect her at all times. I never assume anything physically.
I know she loves me. She still pursues me albeit tentatively. Every time we talk I can hear in her voice that she wants me to reach out to her but each time I do she recoils in anger and horror. The other night she related a story from work and I said "You sound frustrated". She snapped at me for that.
Can someone please share with me something that will give me hope? I love her very much. I miss her very much. I miss my friend. I want to help her but know that I cannot do much, if anything. I can't force her to see what she is not ready to and I cannot be her therapist. I don't want her to torture herself like this any more and I don't want to lose her.
My therapist said what she needs is to feel safe. She needs to see that I am safe, that being with me is a safe place. To do this he said I need to be available but not pursue too much.
What should I expect in the coming weeks or months? Has anyone been where she currently is? Is there hope for her and hope for us? How do I love her from the distance she has assigned me to? Is there hope that we will be close again?
Not sure I can be much help but I can related to her childhood regarding the emotional basis. Im now 48 yrs old and as a child/teen I was raped, sexually, physically and emotionally abused. Ive been bipolar with OCD (terrible intrusive thoughts) since 87.
I think you are right there is more to her story. I also agree she needs help and I hear major distrust and insecurity on her behalf.
As your therapist said she needs to feel safe, she also needs security and to learn to trust which doesnt happen over night and can be destroyed in seconds, I know as I fight with my own personal issues on that matter. I almost feel she's so terrified of the relationship wont last that she's pushing you away becasue she may not be able to emotionally handle it based on her past. I also noticed you comment where you suggested giving her space and she seem to get angry. She may have intrepreted that as an excuse or your way of saying you want out or cant handle being around her.
I agree she most likely has PTSD and could also have some other mental health issues. It would be interesting to know why her mother was hospitalized and was unable to be there for her emotionally, did she have a mental disorder of her own.
This is just a thought if you're into doing research online. Check out the symptoms
of PTSD, Bipolar, Schizophenzia, Personality disorder, OCD obessive complusive disorder
and compare them to what you see in your girl friend. If you find a similiarity you
could visit any of the boards here if you're interested in helping her. Keep in mind
with the right medications any mental health disorder can kept under control.
Good Luck, K
HI- I read your post, and I agree with kiehn's advice.
I also had mental, emotional, and sexual abuse when I was a child that lasted until my teen years. FInally I escaped on my own because my own Mother did not keep me safe.
During these crucial years, everyone who came in my life, hurt me, or abandoned me.
I am now 32 and the ONLY good, healthy relationship I ever had was at 21. I married a wonderful man, whom I could fully open up too but, always feared he would hurt me too. Everyone else did....why would he be different?
Unfortunatly, our marriage ended after 3 years of me denying him any trust, any feelings, I gave him nothing. I am the one who told him to leave, my childhood was haunting me more and more and I just wanted to be alone. For the next 3 years, HE TRIED LIKE HELL, WHAT AN AWESOME MAN HE WAS AND IS. I would let him back in my heart, push him away, and this pattern lasted the 3 years he kept hanging on. I finally started getting help at 26 and realizing what I had thrown away. By this time he was too scarred from my hurting him so many times. He gave up. I remember the day I called him crying and saying I was so sorry for all I put him through.
It was too late. He was involved and moving in together with another woman. I was devastated at what "I HAD DONE". Now, 6 years later ( we also have a son together who is 9 now). I regret hurting him and losing him everyday of my life.
We are friends, and I cannot say one negative thing about him, he is now married to her and she is a good person as well. I am happy for him because I will always love him.
I am sorry, I have went on and on but I think maybe I can relate to how your g/f feels. I just hope she gets to the point of realizing what she has before it is too late for her.
Just be the good guy you are, be her friend if that is what she needs at this time. Hopefully as time goes by, with her therapy and seeing you are not leaving her, she will realize that it is "safe" to trust you. Sounds like she really wanted to but got real scared.
I hope the best for both of you no matter what. And also, remember, it is not you, it is inside her and it is an auto pilot thing that she cannot control, but since she has been in therapy for a couple monts, I think maybe her story will end up oposite of mine. And she won't be filled with regrets of trusting the one person she can. You!
Be good to yourself