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Family Court Strategies: When Your Partner Has BPD OR NPD Traits. Practicing lawyer, Senior Family Mediator, and former Licensed Clinical Social Worker with twelve years’ experience and an expert on navigating the Family Court process.
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Author Topic: Why did you stay in an abusive relationship?  (Read 13413 times)
Skippy
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« on: March 27, 2006, 11:30:10 AM »

This is a question I have not been able to answer for myself and it scares me.  She was not "all that"... .I wasn't really even that attracked to her when we first starting dating... .but I eventually became obsessed with holding the relationship together and took an emotional beating in the process.

I think the idealization was very appealling to me.  I thought it was totally over the top and fake at first, but I did finally believe it was real and I felt pretty darn good.

After the first year, its started to become an intermitant reward (it would come and go)... and I know that I overlooked everything (red flags) wanting to believe that she was "not the girl with the red flags", but rather the devoted lover that idealized me.  The idea she could be both was beyond my comprehension.  Why do you "blind" yourself?

By year 3, it was becoming clear, even in my love sick puppy eyes, that we were never going back to the days when seeing me made her dance across the floor.  The relationship was giving me almost nothing at that point.  My relationship with the boys was blossoming because I enjoyed being with them more than her.  All I could count on from our "lovers relationship" was disappointment... .I was left out of familiy events or invited at the last minute, my birthdays were "non days", we did nothing for me (didn't go to places I wanted to go, or help me with important things in mmy life).  Being with her was either "OK" on some days, then hurtful when I least expected it.

I held on for 24 months like this.  I pushed back, sure.  I cut back the days we were together.  If she was really didfficult, I would leave.  I found other ways to occupy my interests... .I thought about leaving... .but I emotionally held on, hoping for any crumb she would toss me, and was devistated when it ended.  Still bleed about it some.

I have no prior hsitory of anything like this in my life.  If anything, I have been a little aloof in prior reltionships.

Why do hang on so hard... .and even after the fact.
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audrey80

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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2006, 11:59:55 AM »

I hate to admit this but for me, there was a payoff for being in an abusive relationship. They're intense and exciting. I have battled depression most of my life and the ups and downs made me feel "alive." Also it gave me someone else to analyze and blame rather than focusing on my own shortcomings/responsibility in the situation.
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Gulfstream
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2006, 12:00:15 PM »

Well, that pretty sums up my relationship skip, (glad you put your head back on, I was having bad dreams... ) though the time lines are different. I know for me, I was going through  another major issue in my life, and she provided a distraction, all the drama and such... .Further, I wanted to believe what she was showing me, you know, the exact person I wanted. I never said a bit consiously about my ideal woman, but she was a master at figuring that out, and became it. I even commented quite often how uncanny it was that she would do this or that, meeting some mumbled dream I had.

I always knew it was too good to be true, but I was so into my picture of what I wanted, that I accepted all the other crap, just to get a fix of myself, it was my dream I wanted so badly, she was just a dress up to my fantasy. As the thing went to hell, I clung on to her, because I wanted my dream that badly. Finally one morning, after my T pointed out she was borderline, and I read three of 4 books, I knew, and my fantasy died; it was over, and that was the hardest thing for me. She was supply for my dream, I was supply for her personality disorder, and so, I called, broke it off I was free to begin my resurrecting, my journey back to me, back to me, to the real world, to myself as I really am... .That trip took a year of hard work too, but it beats fantasy land for sure, because the price there was just too high.

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Silent Alarm
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2006, 12:36:12 PM »

What Gulfstream said. Smiling (click to insert in post)

Seriously, that about sums it up.  I had also been aloof in previous relationships, always "not sure" about my partner.  With my BPD, I was sure as sunshine.  She was perfect for me in every way.  On paper, she still is.  Close family, ethnically and culturally compatible with mine.  Physically, she was the exact ideal of what I wanted in a woman.  Economically, we had similar education and work backgrounds, and similar ambitions for the future.  Her stated values and goals were the same as mine.  I enjoyed spending time doing things with her, and I imagined a wonderful life with her.  The dream was concrete, real, "so close I could almost touch it", to borrow a line.  When the cracks in the dream started to appear, I refused to acknowledge them, took more and more responsibility for cementing them over, bridging the gap.  I thought I could do it, that I had the strength to hold it together for us, that the dream would be realized and everything would be good.  It actually took an external event - something one of her siblings did, marginally related to the BPD behaviour - to wake me up to the fact that something wasn't right, and that the dream could never be real.

I walked out on it very quickly after that, and tried to pick up the pieces and carry on.  But lately it's become apparent to me that I still grieve over the loss of that dream.  I held it together, hoping in the dream, and somewhere in my subconscious, that dream still lives, breathes, and tortures me when I sleep.

I was lucky for the turn of events that allowed me to leave.  I could easily have kept trying at that dream for years.
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whattodo?
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2006, 01:22:06 PM »

This relationship is the third one where there was some form of verbal abuse.  The first two were not BPD but were undiagnosed anger.  The fact is that I did not know I was in an abusive relationship.  I only started to figure it out when occassionally a stranger would make a comment "Why do you let him speak to you like that?", after listening to the discourse.  BPDH is much more abusive than the first two relationships.  Why do I stay in it?  My T asks me that every week.  Sometimes I'm so close to getting out and then I don't.  I guess my answer is that I believe there is nothing on the other side, I will be all alone the rest of my life and then I will have to let go of the dream I had for my H, marriage and family.  I know that nothing is better than this hurt but I still can't take the first step out.
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Skippy
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2006, 01:25:58 PM »

The dream was concrete, real, "so close I could almost touch it", to borrow a line.  When the cracks in the dream started to appear, I refused to acknowledge them, took more and more responsibility for cementing them over, bridging the gap.  I thought I could do it, that I had the strength to hold it together for us, that the dream would be realized and everything would be good.

In my case, she did not match on all those levels... but the personality, the charm, the warmth, the sharing... .so great... .I was crazy about her... .for what seemed all the right reasons... .

Excerpt
When the cracks in the dream started to appear, I refused to acknowledge them, took more and more responsibility for cementing them over, bridging the gap.  I thought I could do it, that I had the strength to hold it together for us, that the dream would be realized and everything would be good.

Exactly.  I said these exact words.  I said many of your words ("proud", etc).

I've thought that my strength... .something that got me through many situations in my life... .now i had gone too far with it... .I just didn't realize my own limitation in all this.

I feel pretty humbled these days.  And i feel the loss of a dream (and the belief that I will never have this dream again is sad)
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Silent Alarm
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2006, 01:51:15 PM »

Skip, I think that may be why we end up hurt so badly.  We felt we were strong, were proud of it, felt we were a rock for someone.  Now the rock's been pulled out from under us, and where we used to be the stable one, we're floundering.  We have no footing, we are weak, depressed, angry, complaining.  Our stability is gone.  And we were supposed to be the strong ones!

Well, we've reached the limit of our strength.  We tested ourselves, thought we could do it, and failed.  Most people would have not bothered trying, they would have said "This isn't for me".  On the one hand, we shouldn't have tested the limits of how strong we could be to accommodate.  On the other hand, it's good to know your limits, isn't it?

My latest mantra is:  All my life I thought I was a rock.  Now I've realized that I'm just a man.  And isn't it better to be a man than a rock?
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Gulfstream
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2006, 01:59:39 PM »

Hey, WTH is this thread, a requiem or something... .The dream isn't F'ing dead, it's just that we picked mentally disordered people to have it with. There is a good healthy woman out there who is going to get a darn treasure of a guy... Me, and you know what, I'm not settling for any fantasy island next time, it's going to be the real thing!

Now folks, is there a plan here, or are we gonna sit around moping about a lunatic relationship, and how we were used and abused. I for one "won’t get used again" (thanks Rolling Stones)!

I guess Skip was off getting head, he seems to have it back now!

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Silent Alarm
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2006, 02:03:22 PM »

Thanks for the kick in the ass, Gulf.  I need it. 

Tough weekend, feeling depressed, blah blah.

Frankly, I've had enough of this self-pitying sht too.  It's not helping anyone, is it?

The dream is dead, long live the dream.
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tonyel
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2006, 02:16:10 PM »

Gulfstream,

I had this great response all typed out but my computer crashed.  Oh well!

I guess Silent Alarm pretty much said it all... .ditto to the that response!

Thanks,

Tonyel
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Skippy
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2006, 02:19:01 PM »

I'm not sure how to follow these last couple of posts other than to say "I want my Mom".  She must know the answer.

You guys are normal... but look at my picture... .I have a big round face (can't even put on a sweater), a permanent red smile (not the most attractive thing during intercourse), and my hat is permanantly fixed to my head (I don't even know if there is hair under there).

You're right Silent... the self pity stuff isn't working.

And Gulf, as for the dream being dead... .I think than means our "Stepford" babes* were a mirage... .we have to deal with the real world next time around.


* Babe is non-gendered term... .could be male or female.  However, all the women on the site that now feel a need to send me hate mail should address it to Jack in the Box Inc., Attn: Skip is acting like a Jerk, 9330 Balboa Ave., San Diego, CA, 92123-1516.
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Silent Alarm
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2006, 02:22:19 PM »

Ok, the pity party is over.

And I think a reminder is in order:  The name of this thread is "Why did you stay in an abusive relationship?

I think we should all do a little HALT for ourselves, and answer:  "We didn't."

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Gulfstream
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2006, 02:43:17 PM »

Skip, we are not perfect people, we are people perfectly! It is our God given duty to make mistakes, cause that's how we learn, can't learn anything much from winning, and one can never stay at the top forever. What we did learn, is that; any dream worth having, is worth working for. Our borderlines laid our dreams at our feet, gave it to us, without us earning it, it was so easy wasn't it?

Well, now we know, we have to work on our dreams, we can, every non here can work on them; our dreams, and they can come true. For our borderlines, they can't have dreams work out like ours do, because they just understand survival and disappointment, in almost everything they do, say or have. That is the key difference. We have realistic hopes that we can achieve, they have realistic hopes that they will never achieve, because of their disorder... .

Why did we stay? Because we believe in our dreams; because we have made them work before. Why did they leave? Because they have never in their life had a dream work out for them, ever, so my smiley faced friend; that is the true story of the prince who crossed the borderline on the way to his dream... .Good night, and good dreams!

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ddz
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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2006, 03:04:13 PM »

A profound question.  I notice the past tense, so maybe this is not for me.  I'm still there.  For now. 

A lot of reasons come to mind.  Perhaps the easiest answer is inertia -- we're here, we're enmeshed, let's try to make it work, no relationship is perfect, let's not give up too soon.  But it's hard when she doesn't see the need for compromise on anything she thinks is important, and I am no longer satisfied with insignificant compromises.

The kids are a logical reason -- despite all the talk about how it is better for them to experience an honest divorce than to live in a home of repressed frustration, I'm still not sure I believe it.  Both of us love them, both of us devote time and energy to them, both of us are there when they need us.   They are never the target, though they experience collateral damage.

I don't want to them to have split their loyalties yet (I know that will happen -- someone who acts BP in a relationship isn't going to suddenly change when it does);  like Santa Clause (in whom they believe despite objective evidence and knowledge to the contrary), I want them to have the option of keeping the illusion a little longer.   It may not be a perfect answer, but it is what I think.

Still, I don't know how much longer I can stay.  I have finally realized that the flaw is not that I am not the perfect person she thought I was (when I was "white", and I realize I can never be her illusion; the real flaw is that she is not the person I wanted her to be, and convinced myself she was (a hurt person with a heart of gold, with the ability to understand and forgive and change), and likely never will be.  If that's all there is, then it's no longer worth the struggle.
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goochiegirl
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2006, 03:05:06 PM »

 Skip - "stepford babes"?   Actually, it's not the 'babe' part that gets me, it's the "stepford" thing.  Yikes. That's like having a robot for a partner!  Stepford-ness doesn't strike me as being up your alley, Skip!

Now folks, is there a plan here, or are we gonna sit around moping about a lunatic relationship, and how we were used and abused. I for one "wont get used again" (thanks Rolling Stones)!

Gulfie,

What's the plan, Stan?
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goochiegirl
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« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2006, 03:09:09 PM »

I just find it really strange that the way my relationship went was so much the opposite of the norm.  The worst of times was in the beginning. It just kept getting better and better as we went along - he really did make so much progress.  But it was 2 incidents (both when we were on vacation and he was drinking, within 2 weeks of each other) that made me decide to let go.  I mean, geez, toward the end of our relationship was exactly when we were closest, thngs going the best.  But I guess that's another reason they sabotage it, huh?

He kept progressing, getting better, and therefore I had HOPE.  Once I found out about abusers and BPD though, I realized he was never going to be able to really change.  And that's when I was ready.
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Gulfstream
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« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2006, 03:21:52 PM »

Well, here it is Gooch, first I'm gonna finish fix’n myself, Yep, that should take just a little longer. Next, I begin looking for a beautiful woman with lovely lips, and we ride off into the sunset together, all the while singing and ringing the old bell, and I don't mean the taco bell either! And, she will be sweet, neat, fun, and from time to time a little naughty, in a nice way... .Now, is that too much to ask of life? I don't think so! In return she gets a fun loving guy, world traveled, caring, warm, friendly, supportive, good sense of humor, and with a keen sense of 1+1=3, I'll explain that another time!
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goochiegirl
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« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2006, 03:57:35 PM »

1 + 1 = 3?  Sounds like synergy to me!
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Traveler
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« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2006, 04:22:55 PM »

Hi Skip,

I'd have to answer that question by saying I went against everything I felt inside and went along with societies image of what was right for me at the time. Yes I married the resume but when I got to know the person I thought. Well I like to help people and kept down the path of "She'll come around' After all I am a pretty good guy. Two things happened. I eventually kept feeling wrong so much I thought no one would like me and then we split. Now. I feel "right" and continue being a great guy. (A little bit of vengeance is that 2 of her friends asked me out... .Laugh out loud (click to insert in post))

I really think that in us there lies the belief we can truly help people. The problem is that "Everyone" and I mean everyone has Free Will Choice. End of story. Once we realize that we can offer what we can to another but in the end it is their free will choice we begin to understand what we have an effect over. Ourselves.

These BPD's have a harsh way of reminding us of that lesson. We keep trying, keep failing, and keep giving. Then keep losing. After we realize that we did this to ourselves, the anger begins. The frustration begins. Eventually the pity begins for ourselves but then for them.  At some point the indifference begins and thats when we discard these types knowing we did as much as we could or wanted to do. Once we have learned enough we move on to the next lesson.

Traveler

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Sapphire
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« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2006, 04:47:12 PM »

I stayed w/ Jigsaw b/c I loved him (in spite of what others might think... Smiling (click to insert in post)). Or maybe I should say I loved who I THOUGHT he was. I think I also stayed b/c I was 1200 miles away from home, and didn't know a soul at the time, and I had no one else. I also stayed b/c I'm not a "quitter", and believe in giving a relationship my "all". And I didn't understand at the time that it was an abusive relationship; I didn't figure that out till after the fact, although I knew he has issues. I just didn't understand how serious those issues were... .

As far as my own "issues" are concerned, I do have some self-esteem issues due to my upbringing w/ my dad. He belittled us as kids, and he was the kind who believed in "kids should be seen and not heard", and would say things like "I don't want to hear your ___". He made us feel like our opinions didn't matter, and we weren't allowed to show any "emotion". In other words, "YOU DON'T MATTER!" So b/c of this, I had a hard time standing up to Jigsaw, and everytime I did, he would basically say "It's my way or the highway"... .kinda like my dad in a way. I was also brought up believing that a woman should be subservient to her man, and put up w/ whatever he dished out. That's what you were "supposed to do" when you were married, or in love. Your wants & needs weren't supposed to matter. And even though I knew in my heart that this was some backwards ___, I put up w/ it b/c "that's the way it's supposed to be". You were supposed to deal w/ it if you loved somebody... .

But like Gulf, NEVER AGAIN! I realize now just how backwards it all is, and I would never let anyone treat me abusively again. Ace (my current b/f) and I have the kind of relationship I've always dreamed of and deserve: it is no "fantasyland" like it was w/ Jigsaw. But it's not only b/c he treats me like I should be treated: it's also b/c I won't allow it... .Smiling (click to insert in post)

Thank you Jigsaw for "showing me the way". Your abuse has made me a "better" person... .:D

Never thought I'd be saying those words... . :-\

~SD~
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Sapphire
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« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2006, 04:53:25 PM »

These BPD's have a harsh way of reminding us of that lesson. We keep trying, keep failing, and keep giving. Then keep losing. After we realize that we did this to ourselves, the anger begins. The frustration begins. Eventually the pity begins for ourselves but then for them.  At some point the indifference begins and thats when we discard these types knowing we did as much as we could or wanted to do. Once we have learned enough we move on to the next lesson.

Traveler

Very well spoken, Traveler... .

~SD~
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myboo
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« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2006, 08:36:45 PM »

I guess I stayed, because it was familiar... .       Childhood, self esteem, role-models, 

Then one day It felt like I had had shock treatment and I have been No Contact since.

  I am going to keep the dream alive

You got knocked down, you get back up again.

MB

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Gulfstream
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« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2006, 08:55:20 PM »

That's the way of it MB, don't let them steal your dream, that would be the ultimate hurt. Keep your dream alive, work towards it, feel and smell it, expect it, and someday, it will happen, but you really have to want it, and settle for nothing but that dream, that is where we all went wrong, we settled & they stole our dream for their own use!
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« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2006, 10:00:27 PM »



   There were a lot of reasons that I stayed, looking back. Upbringing was probably a big part, it was normal. Mom was uBPD and dad was totally enmeshed/enabling, so I basically followed the patters I learned.

   I was also in love with Tina, and the good times outweighed the bad. It wasn't until things started to go the other way, that I was ready to call it quits. Seems that we all come to a place where we just know that things either have to change or the relationship is over.

   Mark
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tonyel
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« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2006, 10:18:35 PM »

The more I thought about this subject the more I realized that I wasn't in an "abusive" relationship.  In retrospect I was in a BPD relationship.  My UDBPDGf never exebited any agressive behavior towards me.  I was able to identify 8 of the 9 BPD traits (never threatened suicide) and even the self abuse one was more compulsive spending than any personal harm.  Other than a few out of character outbreaks most of her anger was internalized and manifested itseld as bouts of depression.

I guess this is why I am haveing a really difficult time dealing with the break-up and NC.  I'm not rid of a "monster".  I'm just without the woman I love who got depressed form time to time and had this overwhelming fear of abandonment, and started to push me away not too long after we got engaged.  I guess I wish she was very abusive then this would all be that much easier.  I feel like I'm NCing a "puppy" for a few nips that he's made.

The only consolation is the "unknow" aspect of what tomorrow might have brought.  Who knows how bad she may have become in the future.  I guess I'll never know.  ?

Tonyel   
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Gulfstream
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« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2006, 08:30:27 AM »

Ton,

Let's look at it another way... .You got away from a puppy that had a mental disorder, who would slowly change you, make your life miserable, spend you into the ground, never be able to share mature love and trust; the real foundation ot love. Nope, you'll be with that puppy, until she movd on, or you did, and all that time you will be cleaning crap off the floor, and having to say "nice puppy, good puppy" to any crazy antics the puppy wants to do.

Oh, our puppies are all real cute, but read the board, you'll find that living with a puppy for years on end, takes it's measure on you, you have to pay the vet bills, over and over and over.until one of you leaves, and that most likely will happen... .
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Skippy
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« Reply #26 on: March 28, 2006, 08:57:03 AM »

I guess this is why I am haveing a really difficult time dealing with the break-up and NC.  I'm not rid of a "monster".  I'm just without the woman I love who got depressed form time to time and had this overwhelming fear of abandonment, and started to push me away not too long after we got engaged. 

My story mirrors yours in more ways than note.

I use the word "abusive" to refer to the times she hurt me emotionally... .like cancelling my 50th birthday party at the last minute (I sat at home). 

Did you feel emotionally abused... .or were you above it?

There was no cutting.
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tonyel
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« Reply #27 on: March 28, 2006, 09:45:22 AM »

Skip,

I'm not sure if I would say I was "above it" or not.  I also don't think I would say I was "emotionally abused".  When I first met her I had my 2 teenage kids (13 and 16) living with me.  I felt like I had "three"!  If I went to dinner with her and my daughter (13) I would cringe if we were seated in a booth.  If I sat next to her I would get crap from my daughter but if I sat next to my daughter then I would get crap from her.  The only solution was sitting at a table in between the two of them.  This behavior was fairly typical, childish I know, but typical.

I guess this is why I've refered to her as a "puppy" in amother post because her behavior was not that of a middle aged woman. 

Tonyel

 
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downnout
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« Reply #28 on: March 28, 2006, 11:27:50 AM »

Excerpt
Now folks, is there a plan here, or are we gonna sit around moping about a lunatic relationship, and how we were used and abused

Makes me wanna throw a toga party!

I had to laugh - this reminded me of the movie Animal House!

Great thread though - I'm in T for this very issue. I'm having the toughest time letting go. I know it's the right thing but still want to help her but can't. It's so painful. Painful to watch her in internal pain and painful for me to continue to live it. I ask myself this question every day... .why did I stay in an abusive relationship so long? I started to see the cracks forming in the form of lies, and angry outbursts when I would question the lies or perceived deceptive acts, but would ALLOW myself to be hoodwinked with her cunning ability to lie in such a fashion that it was just feasible enough to possibly make sense. It wasn't until (finally) my rational mind started to say 'HEY! THERE AREN'T THIS MANY DAMN CONINSIDENCES IN REAL LIFE'. Then the discoveries - affairs - and that woke me up and broke me up. It's been over two years - I tried like hell for 1.5 years, but couldn't deal with it. We are separated but I still feel for her and want to help. I'm emotionally caught up in a cycle of turmoil. Permanent 'no win' situation.

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« Reply #29 on: March 28, 2006, 12:21:48 PM »

heh.  in 'fear and loathing in las vegas', hunter s. thompson describes this conversation he had with his attorney right after they checked into their hotel room.  thompson's unpacking or whatever, and his attorney is mesmerised by this big light display of the letter S right outside their window.

'there's this big . . . snake thing outside the window.'

'shoot it.'

'not yet.  i want to study its habits.'

of course they were both ripped out of their skulls at the time, but it still cracks me up.  my partner was really the perfect person, and i don't say that lightly.  the opinion wasn't based on trivial evidence or wishfulness.  he passed every possible test my suspicious system and hair-trigger gut could devise.  what warnings there were were so faint and ambiguous that even if i run into them now in other people, i have a hard time knowing what clear decisions to make about them.  to walk out on him when he showed his first incident of truly weird behaviour wouldn't have helped me in the least.  it wouldn't have left me with anything but the evidence that i clearly couldn't trust the evidence of my own eyes and instincts.  i might have got out, but i would have been permanently frozen in limbo, unable to know what to make of anything in any person.

even his weirdness was pretty ambiguously weird.  his craziness was like a watermark on paper:  it's genuinely, seriously there, but you have to look for it and you have to tilt the paper to find the focus that will show it to you.  even when you find a piece of it, it's the same colour as the rest of the paper it's printed on.  i really did need time and experience to let me get a grip on the nature of it, and understand where and how and why it was all wrong.  i couldn't have gained anything by leaving sooner.  
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