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Thread: How do I continue to heal and keep "no contact" with my ex when he's suicidal?

  1. #1
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    How do I continue to heal and keep "no contact" with my ex when he's suicidal?

    I met Nate in high school and was instantly smitten. We were best friends and a couple for two years -- we laughed, cried, and adventured together. We agreed on important life views and our chemistry was explosive. We made each other happy and went above and beyond to make sure the other felt loved. I trusted him implicitly and thought I'd truly found my "forever" person. I knew that we were really young, but I hoped that we would be one of the rare "high school sweetheart" couples to really make it -- we agreed on everything important, had an amazing time together, were supportive of each other, and only had eyes for each other. We were truly "in love" -- it was a real, forever kind of feeling.

    But Nate had a lot of baggage. I knew about it from the beginning, but he seemed amazingly well adjusted for someone who had gone through that much. He had a rough upbringing and an unstable family. He never knew where his next meal was coming from, and his mom was constantly working to support them. His dad was a deadbeat drug dealer who had stalked them for years after his mom left him, assaulted them, and was an absent father after he lost track of them. He was hit and killed jumping in front of a semi trying to get insurance money. Despite all that, Nate was always genuinely happy (I could always tell if something was bothering him), and was grateful for anything positive that came his way. He wasn't going to go to college after high school, but after some encouragement from myself and my parents, he finally started applying himself in school. He was so smart, and after my mom helped him with scholarships, got in to college with an amazing resume. He was a humble, kind, handsome, polite, and chivalrous young guy. I was so in love with him and all the good things about him.

    He did have a few quirks that I thought were cute/not bad at the time, but looking back, they were more insidious than I thought. He was irrationally jealous a lot during our relationship and was extremely threatened by my ex-boyfriends. He was hurt if he knew I found anyone other than him attractive, and he was always asking if my exes were "better than him" in bed. He was extremely attentive and we talked nonstop beginning, which at first I loved, but began to be stressful to me. He would want to know where/who I was with a lot, and if I was out with friends, he would get jealous. He would say things like "I wish you were with me instead, I miss you". We both began isolating ourselves from family and friends to spend ALL our time together. He would often ask me to cancel long standing plans to spend the day with him, and I began to inadvertently lose myself in this relationship. He showered me with compliments in the beginning, but when I deflected some of them (I have body dysmorphic disorder and have struggled with anorexia and he knew this) he would get extremely irritated and say "fine, don't believe me then" or "I've tried convincing you but I guess my opinion doesn't matter". Sometimes I found myself apologizing for upsetting him when I didn't do anything wrong -- it felt off to me, but I just wanted him to be happy again so I ignored my feelings. These are all observations in hindsight, however -- I assumed all of these things were just because he was a "passionate" guy, that Latinos are notoriously "jealous" people, and that his complete lack of control in his childhood (he lost his dad, had to move around constantly, was abandoned by his mom for several years, lived in poverty his entire life, had no control over food, shelter, or clothes) made him a bit overly-controlling now, so I accepted the jealousy and temper. It actually began to rub off on me-- since I had isolated myself, I now grew jealous when he went out with his friends (I felt like I didn't have any anymore because of him) and asked where he was all the time. I grew jealous of past ex girlfriends and insecure about myself. I started to lie compulsively to keep him happy. But I make it sound like a horrible, awful relationship--in reality, I had a lot more GOOD times for two years than bad. In all, I was very, VERY happy and still wanted to spend the rest of my life with this person. I didn't think that these things were deal breakers at the time, because I loved so many other things about him--he was kind, caring, giving, sweet, attentive, and loyal. He was supportive and funny, and we clicked on so many levels. We were head-over-heels for each other, and we talked about our future all the time.

    It all changed when he came to college, though. He withdrew from me bit by bit. He became distant and cold; I didn't know what was happening to the person I fell in love with two years ago. It was heartbreaking to know something was going on, but I couldn't get him to tell me. He was indifferent to my tears, which was a shocking change from someone who used to shower attention and support on me when I was upset. He just kept skating around my questions and treating me oddly. We began fighting a lot because he kept denying something was wrong, and our sex life plummeted. It seemed mechanical, and it wasn't the sweet, caring kind of sex anymore -- it was distant. Barely any kissing or anything, and then just sleep afterwards. Sometimes he would just wake me in the middle of the night, we would do it, and immediately go back to sleep. I spent so many nights crying, with my back turned to his, wondering what I had done wrong. What was wrong with me to turn him into this distant, irritable person I didn't recognize.

    Eventually, it all came to a head. One night, he said he was studying and would be back around 11. I went to bed, but woke at around 12:30. I called, and he said he would be a little late, but something felt weird. I stayed up, waiting for him to come home, but he never did. He didn't answer any of my calls. I felt completely destroyed, because the old Nathan would NEVER do this to me. I paced back and forth, shaking, completely distraught -- I even went on a run at 4:00 am to try and calm my nerves. Nothing worked. He called me in the morning, and tried to sound "chipper". I was pissed, and I let him know. He apologized and said he had "fallen asleep", but I wasn't buying it. After awhile, he called back and said we needed to talk...and I knew it was over.

    Another girl had kissed him, and he let her. In fact, he kissed her back. Although he insisted she made the first move and he never would've made a move, it didn't matter to me. The old Nate never would have put himself in that situation anyway. We drove to the parking lot of Bed Bath and Beyond, and this is where he broke up with me. I was devastated beyond repair. I thought this was the person I would marry, have children with, and grow old with. I thought I would spend the rest of my life waking up to his smiling face. I thought that I would tell our grandchildren our story, and be blissfully happy forever and ever. But instead, he sat there, awkward and silent, while I sobbed so hard I began to dry heave. I was disgusted with his actions and astounded by his lack of emotion. I could tell he was genuinely sorry about cheating, but he was so detached from it all and trying to make excuses. I told him to get out of my life, and he did for awhile.

    But of course, he couldn't for long. He came crawling back, saying "it was a mistake and I miss you". Thus started a very toxic cycle of getting back together and breaking up. Last summer, I tried to end it for good, and even went out on a date. He became desperate and begged me to give him another chance in earnest, so I did. Of course, that didn't last--my best friend sent me a screenshot of his Tinder profile a few weeks later. Heartbroken and enraged at my gullibility, I texted him pictures and told him not to talk to me. He didn't even bother responding the next day, and even got angry with me--he said, "You're acting like I ed your best friend, or something--all I'm doing is snapchatting a few girls." This ignited a fuse in me and we started a very nasty argument. He began to use my past against me, and threw things in my face. I was so shocked and hurt that I told him to never speak to me again. I walked to his house (I didn't have a car) to drop off a gift basket for him, where I heard a girl giggling in his bedroom. When I knocked and shoved everything in his arms, all he said was ""thanks, anything else?" I stormed out, completely enraged. He came back a week later, saying he missed our friendship and couldn't live without me in his life (platonically speaking). So, I went into a friendship with him for all the wrong reasons. I still loved him, still hoped that the "old" him would come back, and thought if I hung out with him all the time, he wouldn't have time for another relationship to blossom.

    Of course, this situation was even MORE toxic than the first one. This is where a lot of the borderline emotional abuse red flags began popping up (and yes, I still stupidly ignored them). I don't think he behaved this way on purpose, but subconsciously, he knew that I still had strong feelings for him. He still doesn't realize how much he needs to be in complete control, and control was definitely was a driving force behind his inability to let me move on. I was still his therapist, best friend, study buddy, and eventual sex buddy, but out in public, we were "just friends". He was so hot and cold -- attentive and happy one minute, withdrawn and uncommunicative the next. We would talk multiple times a day, and then not at all for days at a time. He tried to hide it from me, but I knew he went out with other women and even butt dialed me once on a date. He sent me such mixed signals--"I miss you", "come over", "I want to hang out"...he would cuddle me, kiss me, and tell me how much he enjoyed/appreciated me as a person. When I expressed that I was confused by our ambiguous relationship, he would dismiss me like my feelings were invalid or "crazy". He would gaslight me over certain situations when I'd call him out for sending mixed signals--it was always "I don't remember it that way," "I'm sorry you saw it that way, but it actually went this way," "I never said/did that", "Give me an extremely detailed example of when I did that" (If I didn't have a ton of details about what happened apparently it just didn't happen at all). He knew what pushed my buttons and sometimes did them to be "funny", and when I got irritated, he would be flabbergasted (and then angry that I got angry). I began to doubt my own judgement and wondered if I had a completely distorted sense of reality. I wondered if I was a drama queen or "crazy" for feeling the things I felt. I didn't trust myself anymore, but my common sense still knew not to trust him either. I became the "crazy " that I vowed never to be -- snooped through his phone, got upset over things I shouldn't, obsessed over where/who he was with....I regret everything I did, because I should've just taken my lack of trust as a sign to leave. Red flags began to pop up everywhere in my mind, both from the past and in the present. I began to realize that our previous relationship was far from perfect and we even bordered on emotionally abusive at times. But we were still best friends; thick as thieves--we talked on the phone every day, told each other everything, studied together, and still had so much fun together. I worried about him, too, because after coming to college, he became extremely depressed. He felt like he lived a life of blissful ignorance in high school but college exposed him to the cold hard facts of his life -- his past was messed up, his brain was imbalanced, and he hated himself. I wanted him to be okay and to make sure he didn't feel alone since I was his only lifeline.

    A couple of weeks ago, we got drunk at my apartment. I can't remember how it started, but we started talking about our relationship. I said that I thought it was unhealthy for me and he feigned innocence--"we're just friends, though." I had told him repeatedly through our friendship (with benefits, I might add) that I still had feelings, so it's not like he didn't know. I asked him why he couldn't see us being in a relationship together ever again, and he made some valid (but still hurtful) points about my lack of assertiveness and confidence. He said my self esteem was too low. This made me angry, because I don't think he ever realized just how much his cheating took a toll on my self confidence -- I doubted myself so much after that night and what was wrong with me to make him stray. He also said that I was "too much of a doormat", didn't call him on his enough, and changed myself constantly to impress him (he even said I became an Orientation Leader JUST to impress him). We got in a huge fight, and as usual, he tried to turn the tables on me. Being drunk, I didn't back down like I usually did, so this upset him. I told him he made me feel like my feelings were crazy or invalid, and he started to shut down. I knew the conversation wasn't going anywhere constructive so I told him to leave. I blocked him on social media and called my friend Amy to hash things out.

    The next morning, he called and said last night was really bad; we should talk about it. I told him I didn't think it was good for my mental health to continue being friends while still having such strong feelings. I needed a break to heal. He suggested we do "no contact" and actually stick to it this time, so I agreed and said I would reach out IF I was ever ready. We didn't speak at all for a few weeks, and I started to feel a lot better in a surprisingly short amount of time. Of course I missed him, but I felt a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders--I could move on with my life! I started working out again (I had been so stressed I had been sleeping too much and barely eating), going out with friends, talking to family, flirting with boys, and just pampering myself. I was finally getting to a good place. I had time to reflect on just how many red flags I should've been paying attention to during our and how much it had torn me down as a person. I had become completely codependent on this person. I sacrificed my needs and wants constantly for him. I blew off friends and family constantly. I had constantly been seeking his approval and desire, even though he broke my heart over and over. I was constantly sacrificing things for him--plans, alone time, things I wanted to do, where I wanted to study--to do whatever he wanted. I would drop everything for him, and it definitely wasn't reciprocated for the last two years of our "off and on" phase--I let him call ALL the shots. At first, this was okay--we both couldn't get enough of each other. But now it seemed like I was the one giving up everything to make him happy and he did nothing. I had such a hard time standing up for myself, because he would be so insistent on persuading me otherwise it made me feel guilty for not feeling the same way.

    I don't know what to do now because he called me a few days ago. He said he was having a horrible time in school, had no motivation, didn't "click" very well with his other classmates (he's in a competitive nursing school with only 15 others in his class), and that he missed me. He said that he felt horrible for the things he said that night, and that he's treated me so badly over the last few years. He told me that if it wasn't for me, he wouldn't even be in college, or alive for that matter -- and that scared me. I asked him if he was still suicidal (he had been the year before, but had seemingly gotten better), and he said yes. He said that it comes and goes--that he has good days where he feels normal but other days where he doesn't want to be alive anymore. He said that he misses talking to me and not being in my life, and begged me to stay in Bozeman for my nursing school (I'm probably moving to another town since Nursing is so competitive in Bozeman). I felt horrible that I hadn't been there for him, and I sent him a link to a counselor. He wants to set up an appointment together on Tuesday this week and has been reaching out more and more regularly.

    Now, I feel like I've betrayed myself in opening up the lines of communication again. I feel like if I keep talking to him, I'll let the same unhealthy cycle we were stuck in will start all over again since I'm not over him yet. But at the same time, I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure he's okay and won't do anything to hurt himself. I still love him a lot, but I know that he has a lot of baggage to work through. He's a 19 year old boy, and has a lot of growing left to do. But I've spent too much time and energy trying to make him see just how much I love and care, only to have him walk all over my heart. I'm tired of waiting for him to go back to his "old self" -- who knows if he'll ever come back? I just don't know what to do. I want him to be okay and not hurt himself, but MY mental health is important too. I can't spend another year crying and begging him to tell me "what we are". I can't take another "we're just friends" speech, and I can't handle the awkward distant silence when I try to make him understand my feelings. I care a lot still and am worried about his suicidal ideations, but don't know how to save myself. What do I do? I still really care about him, but I'm afraid of falling back into something toxic. I realize that I shouldn't feel bad or responsible, since he's the one who hurt me and gave up, but I still feel a strong pull to help (or get him help). He had a horrible, unstable, abusive childhood and I think a lot of his abusive tendencies stem from it. I know that I exhibit some abusive behavior as well that stem from this relationship and my own insecurities. What do i do to help him without falling back into the toxic cycle we were in?

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    If you genuinely think he's suicidal call his parents & beg them to get him help. You can also tell the school or the police. If the authorities believe that he's a danger to himself they can have him involuntarily committed for up to 72 hours on a psych hold. If you do this, let your parents know what is going on because you will need support. It will be the right thing to do but it's hard.

    Other than that, you owe him nothing. You don't even owe him that. You are his EX GF not his psychiatrist. Any decisions he makes even a tragic one like killing himself is a CHOICE he makes. It's not on you. It's not your responsibility. My EX killed himself 13 years ago; the anniversary is next weekend. Even if we had still been together I could not have prevented it & neither could his family; he was a very disturbed man.

    You are being a good person but you can't lose yourself in his issues. Trust me. I get how hard it is. Just this morning I posted about a crying friend & my unwillingness to do more then I did. The intensity & stakes in my situation is less but the concepts are the same.

    Hang in there.

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    You aren't "falling back" into a toxic situation. You never left.

    Assigning yourself responsibility for his very life seems empowering and makes you feel important, but it's not realistic.

    He needs the help of trained professionals if he is sincere about wanting to die. If he's not sincere and is telling you these things to be manipulative, well that's another issue. And would also require professional intervention.

    Next time he threatens suicide notify his mother. Suggest to him that he make use of the many resources his nursing school has available. And then step back from the savior role. Don't you want to start living again?

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    Platinum Member smackie9's Avatar
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    I agree with the others here....tell his parents or the school counselor, and leave it up to them. You need to detach yourself from him.

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    Platinum Member ThatwasThen's Avatar
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    I agree with all of the above and will add that you should look into getting your own counselling so that you can garner the confidence to detach from people like your ex without guilt or feelings of obligation.

    But at the same time, I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure he's okay and won't do anything to hurt himself.
    Codependent thinking at its finest.

    Google "codependency" and "losing yourself in others" and start your journey to recovery there.

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    It is NOT your responsibility to make sure he is okay. You are not his mother or therapist. You are also not qualified.

    You need to get this guy out of your life! He is abusive, controlling and manipulative. He is dangerous to your mental health!

    You need counseling to move on from this guy, and to understand that a healthy relationship does not includes, jealousy, isolation, manipulation, and emotional abuse.

    Cut this guy off! Look into co dependency: [Register to see the link]

    He is responsible for his wellbeing, not you.

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    What is his "old self?" He has been abusive and controlling from the start. These are not "quirks": "He did have a few quirks that I thought were cute/not bad at the time, but looking back, they were more insidious than I thought. He was irrationally jealous a lot during our relationship and was extremely threatened by my ex-boyfriends. He was hurt if he knew I found anyone other than him attractive, and he was always asking if my exes were "better than him" in bed. He was extremely attentive and we talked nonstop beginning, which at first I loved, but began to be stressful to me. He would want to know where/who I was with a lot, and if I was out with friends, he would get jealous. He would say things like "I wish you were with me instead, I miss you". We both began isolating ourselves from family and friends to spend ALL our time together. He would often ask me to cancel long standing plans to spend the day with him, and I began to inadvertently lose myself in this relationship. He showered me with compliments in the beginning, but when I deflected some of them (I have body dysmorphic disorder and have struggled with anorexia and he knew this) he would get extremely irritated and say "fine, don't believe me then" or "I've tried convincing you but I guess my opinion doesn't matter". Sometimes I found myself apologizing for upsetting him when I didn't do anything wrong -- it felt off to me, but I just wanted him to be happy again so I ignored my feelings."

    Please move to that other town! Do your parents and friends know about all of this? I would think they would want you far away from this guy.

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    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    How do I continue to heal and keep "no contact" with my ex when he's suicidal?
    Don't cater to emotional blackmail. Tell him you're done, and the next suicide threat will land the police at his side, and you are serious. Then phone the police if he ever threatens again. Period.

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    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    It's an abusive relationship. Cease all contact and block and delete him from all social media and messaging apps. Read up on this. Understand the traits of abusers and the red flags for abusive relationships. Your post has almost all of them. Educate yourself.

  11. #10
    Platinum Member reinventmyself's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bf1997
    But at the same time, I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure he's okay and won't do anything to hurt himself.
    He's a 19 year old boy, and has a lot of growing left to do. But I've spent too much time and energy trying to make him see just how much I love and care, only to have him walk all over my heart. I'm tired of waiting for him to go back to his "old self" -- who knows if he'll ever come back? I just don't know what to do. I want him to be okay and not hurt himself, but MY mental health is important too. I can't spend another year crying and begging him to tell me "what we are". I can't take another "we're just friends" speech, and I can't handle the awkward distant silence when I try to make him understand my feelings. I care a lot still and am worried about his suicidal ideations, but don't know how to save myself. What do I do? I still really care about him, but I'm afraid of falling back into something toxic. I realize that I shouldn't feel bad or responsible, since he's the one who hurt me and gave up, but I still feel a strong pull to help (or get him help).
    He's not your responsibility. Repeat that.

    I had a sad, toxic relationship in high school with a young man who was ultimately emotionally unstable. I will tell you that that relationship, in your very formative years will impact you for years to come. I went on to make a few more bad choices in partners until I learned my lesson

    Your responsibility is to yourself. He's an adult, albeit young, but it's best he learn these challenging lessons now and not when he's 40.
    You aren't equipped to help him and the sooner to you let go, yes he may fall, the sooner he gets the real help he needs. The longer you hold his hand this toxic dance continues. It's time to break the cycle and let go.

    Turn to your family and tell them the situation you are in.

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