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To give you a brief overview, I am a late 20s woman who has been in a relationship with my late 20s female partner for almost five years. The biggest baggage we each brought was her rape which happened 3 years before we met, and my past abusive relationship which happened 4 years before we met.


Year One: We both feel we have found our soulmate and move in together, have an active intimate life, and a deep connection, and we began to make plans for the distant future. Six months in, she told me about her past sexual trauma, and promptly withdrew sexually. I told her I loved her and I was here and would wait for her while she sorted through the painful things of the past. Seven months in, I can see her slipping into a depression she won't acknowledge for another six months. Nine months in, she is verbally abusive with me for the first time and promises it will not happen again.


Years Two and Three: These years are a collage of verbal and emotional abuse from her, and watching her slip in and out of multiple episodes of depression. Life in this time is full of feeling like my partner is nearly always either emotionally "asleep" or about to rage on me. My partner begins to hide personal debts from me, drop household/work responsibilities, and withdraw from friends. There is hardly any intimacy at all, and life slowly becomes a cycle of her abuse, disconnect, depression, and short bursts of trying to be a present partner. We continue to make plans for the future, as we both continue to express a desire to see one another through and get to the other side hand in hand. By the end of year 3 I am resentful of her seeming irresponsibility, her still sporadically-present abuse, and the time that I feel we've wasted. Resentful hope is the best term I can come up with to describe what my gut-feeling became. The bad outweighed the good during this time, about 70/30, but the idealistic idea I held on to of what we COULD be kept me going.


Year Four until now: A large period of time (7-9 months) goes by without an emotionally abusive incident. My partner is depressed, but begins to find treatment that seems to help. She is emotionally aware in a relationship that has been crumbling around her for a few years now while having been emotionally disconnected. It is like she woke up ready to try, and found the disappointing sight of a hurting, weathered partner. In the four years that have passed, we have never been intimate more than once a month as respecting her trauma and space became a way she ended up never needing to become physically vulnerable. She still drops the ball on the practical things in life, and I worry constantly about my future family's ability to rely on her as a stable adult. My constant worry and my hesitation toward her new-found ability to "feel" and "empathize" snowball into a full-blown generalized anxiety episode, which happened about 1 month ago. Two weeks ago, I acknowledged the anxiety (which I had previously explained to her was an issue twice in my life before), and tried to be honest about where I was in my ability to cope with stress and conflict for the time being. Since I talked with her about this, she has gotten emotionally abusive with me twice, both times in "response" to a panic attack or moment of severe anxiety. She continues to say the behavior won't happen again, and promises support in this difficult time. In these two weeks since she came to hear of my current anxiety, I have seen support on about 2 days and impatience or anger the rest of the time.


Today: Today I did something I am so unbelievable ashamed of. We had an argument over sometime insignificant this morning, and I became very panicked. She became very frustrated with me and handed me my anxiety pills, which I believe to be a big boundary no-no and so I moved them away from me and firmly told her to please not shove medication in my face, it is not helpful. She became angry at this and tossed the bottle toward me with a look of disdain. I immediately filled with such rage, and I threw the bottle at her back, slapped her forearm hard with my hand, and told her to get away from me. I hit my partner, my love, the once I've been hanging on to all these years because I want my future to be with her. I am so ashamed. I'm not just ashamed because it was WRONG, I'm ashamed because I should know better; I know what it feels like, and I'm disgusted with myself that I could ever make another human being feel what I've felt. I saw what I had done right away, and apologized over and over in disbelief. I told her it would never EVER happen again. We decided we finally need to go to counseling, that this relationship has gotten too messy for us to dig through alone. I never thought I could hit another human being, and I am willing to do the work to make sure it doesn't happen again.


I guess I'm just scared that it's too late. What if she can't forgive me for what I did today? What if I can't forgive her for the years before? They say you're supposed to just KNOW if you're supposed to be with someone, that if it is time to go, you will know. I don't know if I'll ever know that. No matter what has happened with my partner, I always know that I want my future to be with her. She expresses the same to me.


Are counseling and both of us really trying and really wanting this enough to make it work?

I really hope so.


Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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In general, I think this is a destructive relationship and you should leave it. Just my opinion.


I only scanned your story because it was long - seems there's a lot of emotion, high drama and distress.


BUT if you always want your future with her as you said, then who cares what we think anyway? Why are you here? Go to counseling and be with the love of your life!

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I guess I was looking at it differently because she tossed it toward me, and I intentionally struck her. Thanks for that, though.

What do you think of everything in general?


I think if you can leave the difficulties of the past behind you and the two of you can move forward and not dwell on the mistakes, if your partner can get help for the mental health issues and you can stop beating yourself up over small mistakes than you might have a chance.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Where is the line is a good question. I've been in two abusive relationships. The first one was with a drinker, the second had an anxiety disorder. At least with the first one I always knew it was drink related. with the second I never knew when things were going to be a 'problem'


But I will tell you one thing. After living with someone who constantly went out on 3 day vodka benders and came home angry there was one day in the driveway where I slapped him. Months and months and months of it built up to a point where I exploded. I shouldn't have done that. I've never taken a hand to a partner before. I got my comuppance. He picked me up by the neck (still drunk) in the middle of the front driveway, and punched me full fisted in the face. Humbling.


My friend gave me some advice she said "if someone was telling you this story on a bus what would you say"


I gave my ex a one-time get out of jail free card for that. And said if he ever hit me again I was out.

The drinking didn't stop but the marriage did and the next time he raised a hand to me I was gone. I was stupid enough to drag those fears of violence into my next relationship with a man who would fire any emotional ammo he had at me if he was cranky. He knew my past, he knew my fears, and he was compassionate for none of it. And he knew if he was ever drunk or violent I would leave. So last night when he threw a bag of fruit at me I left. It wasn't me that told him that was domestic violence, it was the police.


Everyone has a breaking point and everyone has boundaries. I'm certainly no relationship expert and what you said made some sense in that she awoke from the coma to find her worn-out partner, that I understand implicitly. They bounce back and expect you to be fired up and ready for it, but you're not.


If the violence COULD happen again then a bit of temporary distance - while you seek advice and assess your situation properly may be a good thing in the interim. I guess whether she stays is up to her. Whether you let it happen again is up to you.


But if you are taking medication only when you have the panic attacks and are not on something that can help you to not get in those situations, there may be something you can do right there.


I wish you both well, whatever the outcome.

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