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I was the dumper and can't heal. Help?


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All I Ever Wanted Was to Love You
All I Ever Wanted Was to Love You

I posted another thread in the "Getting Back Together" section with the whole story. (sorry it's long!)

 

I'm 20 years old. I started dating my ex when I was 17, and we decided to stay together through college. I thought our relationship was healthy, but I was wrong. It was very obsessive, and both of us were extremely possessive. We were truly compatible, and I think it was a case of first love intensity. I also think I have some traits of a love addict. I thought I was going to die without him in school. I cheated on him right off the bat. Drunk for the first time, surrounded by guys who found me attractive. I was never "hot" in high school, and thought this was awesome. We went on a break, but still talked all the time. Basically it was my way of having my cake and eating it too. I totally strung him along, but I didn't see it then. I never thought I was capable of doing the things I did. I got physically involved with guys I wasn't into at all, just to feel "hot". We tried to work things out this past summer, but I got "numb". I literally felt as though I couldn't feel anything, and thought I fell out of love with him. Now, I realize I was incapable of truly loving at all.

 

I realize that I've had these selfish traits all my life, and am trying to figure my life out. I am so immature and unsure of myself. I hate myself for hurting the most wonderful guy I've ever known and I'm totally lost. I believe I could have had a future with him if I had been more mature, or if I could work out whatever issues lie at the bottom of this.

 

How do I heal? How do I become less selfish, immature, and obsessive? How do I stop hating myself?

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The fact you have realised all of that is the key. I was with someone who sounds very similar, but she never saw her mistakes. That you have and want to change is the biggest step, and doing it is just a matter of thinking about your actions. An apology to him might be good too, in the form of a letter, as I am sure you probably apologised when you broke up. Those apologies dont mean a lot, one's later on do.

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You took the first big step in realizing there are problems that lie within you that you would like to change. The next step is to figure out exactly what the root of those problems are. Since you seem so unsure of yourself you'd probably benefit the most from seeing a professional -- a counselor or a clinical psychologist. If you had a better grasp on what the problems were exactly you may be able to fix them on your own, but you sound a bit lost about it all. But keep in mind, and this is the most important thing, you really have to be committed to change for yourself -- going to a counselor and just going through the motions without really working at it won't help.

 

And don't be afraid of any stigma associated with psychological counseling. It certainly isn't just for "crazy" people, far from it. In fact it seems the people that benefit the most are the more sane ones. The truly crazy ones don't acknowledge they have a problem so they never really try to change.

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We met up earlier this summer (broke up officially in November), and I apologized. I told him that I realized how selfish and self-centered I was, and how none of my actions reflected how I felt about him or saw him as a person. I told him how I am working on myself and that I am working very hard with a therapist, journaling, practicing meditation, trying to be more spiritual, giving and loving. He says he has forgiven me 100% and looks past all of the things I did to him. He says he hopes his forgiveness is permission enough for me to finally forgive myself. I feel like a part of me is resisting self-forgiveness, because I feel as though I don't deserve it. I don't deserve happiness, so I am torturing myself. I can't help thinking I am destined to be a bad person...that it's just my nature.

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You seem to be doing really well and are clearly making the right choices based on your posts. Don't ever get discouraged -- oftentimes it will feel like you're regressing and you may feel like giving up. Don't do it. It's a 2 steps forward, 1 step back kind of deal. Given how determined you seem to be right now it's highly likely you'll get better -- your feelings of not deserving happiness or being a bad person will be gone one day.

 

I'm speaking from some experience on this. I had an ex that had a lot of the same feelings you are describing. When she was committed to her therapy she was amazing and felt really good about herself. At one point she stopped going (prematurely, she should have stuck with it) and she slowly regressed. Once she lost that committment to improving there was nothing I, or anyone else, could do to help her.

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Thank you for your encouraging words.

 

My ex and I are friendly, but when we talk, it often ends in me crying because of the guilt I feel. I never deserved him, how could I do that, etc. etc. He said he wants us to get to a point where we can spend time with one another and not remember all of the bad things we went through, but start anew with a friendship and possibly more.

 

It is hard when you hear people say "once a cheater, always a cheater", or similar things. I never thought I was capable of doing the things I did, and don't want to believe they are "who I am". I am working with my therapist to figure out what was at the root of all of this. Together, we've discussed my selfishness, low-self esteem, lack of self-respect and youth/experience. I see now that I wasn't capable of a true, loving relationship back then. I don't feel good about myself unless someone is pursuing me, and that is just ridiculous. I am going to take time to work on myself, building up my self-respect and values, and sticking to them. I want to be able to have a healthy relationship in my future. I want to be capable of truly loving someone unconditionally.

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I was totally the guy in your story. Pretty much the same exact thing...but she has never apologized and thinks she did nothing wrong.

 

This was some time ago now, but she is still the same way- if not worse...

 

This guy who is now forgiving and forgetting is a better man than me. You're very lucky. I couldn't do that.

 

Why didn't you just let him go when you started cheating with other guys?

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I don't know why I didn't. I still cared about him, and in a way, was addicted to him. I know it is hard to believe, and I wish I could apologize a million times for everything. I have been going through severe bouts of depression, replaying all of the stupid * * * * I've done and would suffer for the rest of my life if it could have taken away the pain I put him through. There's something wrong with me, and I am trying to figure it out now. I hate that I hurt someone so wonderful. I am sorry that you had to go through it as well. I was extremely selfish, and thought of no one but myself. I take all of the responsibility for my actions, and don't know how to forgive myself. Again, I am sorry for your situation.

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Jamie, what sort of upbringing did you have with your parents?

 

My therapist and I have discussed this quite a bit, as I understand behavior like mine may have had to do with neglect, and what not. However, I have grown up with great parents. My mother has always been a little overbearing, both of my parents extremely loving and protective. I never was exposed to this sort of behavior. My parents are still married and both very much in love. I was quite sheltered actually, having no experience with alcohol/partying or physical involvement with anyone other than my serious boyfriend.

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It's good that you're figuring things out now...and I may be a little blunt because my ex gf did the same thing- and apparently still thinks she did nothing wrong.

 

Even when I knew whole-heartedily that stuff was going on with other people, she would never admit it and turn the tables on me saying that I was not confident and was overbearing.

 

My ex was just like you. Totally the quiet, nice, and caring girl through high school. And we were rather obsessive as well I should say. Then she went to college and turned into this thing I couldn't stand (and still can't- and I'm bitter for her ruining herself) and couldn't trust.

 

I know that she is totally beyond help at this point- in regards to her going back to how she was.

 

It is such a shame. Actually, I'm not really sure she knows who the hell she is...her "new" self was definitely shaped by her college experience. Who knows- I can't sort it all out...I just know that she is completely different than what she used to be.

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My therapist and I have discussed this quite a bit, as I understand behavior like mine may have had to do with neglect, and what not. However, I have grown up with great parents. My mother has always been a little overbearing, both of my parents extremely loving and protective. I never was exposed to this sort of behavior. My parents are still married and both very much in love. I was quite sheltered actually, having no experience with alcohol/partying or physical involvement with anyone other than my serious boyfriend.

 

that may be the problem and perhaps you need to seek a new therapist. Overbearing and over protective or over loving parents can be just as damaging as parents who were physically or mentally neglectful. Being sheltered can be damaging to the growth and development of a healty functioning adult and can stifle a person's self esteem and self worth. If your parents are too over protective, an adolscent doesn't have the opportunity to individuate. Individuation is the vital process by which an adolescent starts creating their own identity and emotionally break away from the parents. It is vital to developing healthy self worth and self esteem as an adult. I know this because i have the same issues. You sabotaged your relationship with your ex because of fear. You are young and it is good that you already acknowlegded te problem.........i only diagnosed myself at 36 and it is just so hard to turn my behaviour around. I have sabotaged every relationship i have been in........not by cheating or playing the field, but by simply shutting down emotionally.

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I do feel as though my being sheltered and spoiled, in a way (I was the baby), kept me from maturing and growing up. I wasn't really aware of a self-esteem problem, but looking back, I see signs of it. Craving attention, constant need for validation, jealousy, clinginess, insecurity.

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So if parents are loving and protective...then one cannot form an identity? I can't say that I agree.

 

Sometime it takes just dropping all the therapy- stop talking and thinking about doing something or being a certain way...and just do it, go after it.

 

Understand that you shouldn't cheat when you are already with another human-being (who has feelings). Naturally, you just shoudn't cheat, right? It's the wrong thing to do.

 

Understand that you don't string someone along when you're the one acting irresponsible and selfish. Naturally, you just shouldn't string someone along, right? It's the wrong thing to do.

 

It's all about right and wrong. Go for the right, stay away from the wrong. Obviously we all make mistakes- some to larger degrees- but if you think in those terms you can stay away from "How do I find myself?" type questions...

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I am not trying to make an excuse for my actions, and I am sorry if it seems that way. I am trying to make right now. I can't take back everything I did, and if I could, I would in a heartbeat. I'm sorry I didn't make all of the right choices, and that it wasn't as simple to me at the time than it is now or to you.

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exactly.......that's how abandonment/engulfment fear develops.

 

There is this misunderstanding that unless your parents beat you or verbally berated you that your childhood was fine. The problem with over protective parenting is that it's difficult to see the damage that it's doing because it feels like 'love'.......there are no bruises, no cuts, no broken bones, no shouting or verbal assults........but it's still a form of emotional abuse, because it's not letting the child individuate and grow it's own sense of who you are separate from your parents.

 

By not letting you individuate, you became dependant on your parents for all your needs. This further damages your self esteem and self worth. You fear trusting yourself to make a decision or that you will make the wrong decision. You can become a perfectionist, a procrastinator and your co-dependancy ends up manifesting as abandonment fear. You fear allowing yourself to love and be loved for fear of being abandoned and you get into sabotaging behaviour.

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Simple is good though. Think in simple terms now. We inflate everything to be this web of complexity. Why not simplify something that is indeed, quite simple.

 

You already laid out what you need to do and how you need to go about accessing your behaviors. You did some things that were wrong. Now you know that they were wrong. Don't act that way again. You know yourself, you've been an individual for 20 years now. Don't keep doubting yourself and move on with your new outlook.

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So if parents are loving and protective...then one cannot form an identity? I can't say that I agree.

 

Sometime it takes just dropping all the therapy- stop talking and thinking about doing something or being a certain way...and just do it, go after it.

 

Understand that you shouldn't cheat when you are already with another human-being (who has feelings). Naturally, you just shoudn't cheat, right? It's the wrong thing to do.

 

Understand that you don't string someone along when you're the one acting irresponsible and selfish. Naturally, you just shouldn't string someone along, right? It's the wrong thing to do.

 

It's all about right and wrong. Go for the right, stay away from the wrong. Obviously we all make mistakes- some to larger degrees- but if you think in those terms you can stay away from "How do I find myself?" type questions...

 

this is all correct but different people react in different ways and at the end of the day, it is her fear that is controlling her behaviour. It's very easy to say just stop the wrong behaviour, but much harder to do in practice. When the fear hits, you shut down your emotions, it feels like a threat to your very existence.

 

No different to a person that has a fear of flying or a fear of water. To you it's an irrational fear, but to the person who has the fear, it literally feels like they will die if they get on a plane or go for a swim.

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Abandonment fear?

 

So how does fear of abandonment atone for the behaviors she pursued in the first year of college? That train wreck of behaviors for a relationship was directly leading to his abandonment of her...not her fear of losing him.

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I am guilty of overanalyzing, and making things far more complicated than they should be. I can't sleep or eat because I go back and rehash all of my idiotic choices. It is, as atelis said, for me much easier to say than to do. I am trying to live a simpler life, and look at things this way. Right and wrong.

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I honestly don't know exactly what lead up to my behavior. Like I said, I have no excuses. It was immature, selfish, and awful. I hate myself and I cannot forgive myself for what I have done. Deep down, I believe it was because of self-esteem issues, and I was not ready for a committed relationship, though I am a selfish person with addictive tendencies (codependency), so I clung to him. I am trying to move forward and change my ways so that I can maybe one day have a healthy relationship.

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Stop hating yourself and just move forward. What's done is done. You were one who was caught up in the new college thing and gave into a bunch of temptations. Now that's over...luckily you still have the guy around. Learn from your mistakes- realize you can stand on your own and don't need the validation of your peers or other guys to inflate your self-worth.

 

Just simply stop being selfish and think about the other person and their feelings. Don't have your cake and eat it too kind of thing. Make sacrifices and appreciate things.

 

I don't think you had an addictive tendency because although you think you clung to him', you were out with other guys doing things as well. You can't be too addictive when you're choosing the quickest route to lose him.

 

Move forward now and realize that you know how to change your ways now.

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Abandonment fear?

 

So how does fear of abandonment atone for the behaviors she pursued in the first year of college? That train wreck of behaviors for a relationship was directly leading to his abandonment of her...not her fear of losing him.

 

when a person fears commitment, they essentially fear being loved and letting themselves love. when you are co-dependant (as jamie is) you fear being abandoned, so you sabotage relationships and shut your emotions off so that you don't let yourself fall in love or be loved. However, that will then trigger the abandonment and she then realises her fear of being abandoned. That is why abandonment/co-dependancy is such an insidious illness..........we attract and pursue the very thing that will trigger our greatest fears.

 

We essentially crave the thing we fear the most........a loving relationship.

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She was doing a fine job up to college. Probably the obsessive high school relationship, but at least it was stable and committed.

 

Then she got to college and made some wrong decisions. That's how I see it.

 

Now she realizes they are wrong, so why not just internalize that notion and don't make the same bad decisions again?

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She was doing a fine job up to college. Probably the obsessive high school relationship, but at least it was stable and committed.

 

Then she got to college and made some wrong decisions. That's how I see it.

 

Now she realizes they are wrong, so why not just internalize that notion and don't make the same bad decisions again?

 

from what i read in her original post, the relationship with her ex was obsessive from the start.........both seemed to experience co-dependant behaviour. Co dependant relationships are characterised by intense lust/infatuation...........it's an addiction which triggers all of a person's fears and insecurities. They triggered all of Jamies insecurities and it was then a fight or flight battle to be in the relationship. The addiction is no different to the addiction that a drug user or alcoholic has. It's not as easy as saying 'just don't make bad decisions'.

 

she is doing the right thing by going through therapy and understanding that she has this problem. It will also need to involve her parents. And i do think you need a new therapist Jamie who understands abandonment and the link between smothering/over protective childhood and how that manifests in co-dependant behaviour

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