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I want to move on, trouble pulling the plug


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Hi, I'm new around here and not sure where to start. I just feel like I need to get this off my chest to some objective, neutral third parties. As supportive as friends and family have been in the last 6 months, of course everyone has "the answer" to my problem and often that advice can be conflicting, as well meaning as it is. I'm hoping that perhaps other breakup survivors who have been down a similar road can give me some helpful tips. So here's my story.

 

Six months ago, my boyfriend of three years broke up with me and moved accross the country back to his hometown. He essentially ended things because he was depressed. He has fought depression throughout our relationship but it got to a point where it was really crushing us both. I tried as best I could to be supportive,tried to find solutions to perhaps get him help. But he finally said he just thought that if he went back home to his friends and family that perhaps things would turn around. A couple of months go by, we intermittent contact, and he tells me he screwed up. That going home was not the panacea he thought it would be, that I was the love of his life, and he was terribly sorry that he broke both of our hearts for no reason. I said I was open to talking about things but that he needed to seek help for his emotional issues if we were ever going to have a chance. For the last few months, he's had trouble finding work and has had to take a low paying part time job, he realized all his friends have moved on or grew up a bit in his absence, and he's still incredibly depressed. The last four months, we have kept in touch but its sporadic. He blows really hot sometimes, laying the love on thick, until I start asking about what are we going to do concretely to put things back together. Then he disappears for days or weeks, only to resurface once I stop trying to contact him.

 

I know me not moving on is largely my fault, as I love him and hurt for him when he tells me how lonely and sorry and depressed he is. A month ago, he finally made the step to do something about his depression and has been prescribed an anti-depressant. That has only renewed my hope that once the medication starts working to full affect that, just maybe, he won't be in such a dark place and can think about what, if anything, he wants from us in a clear manner.

 

In the last few months I have not let my life stop. I just finished an advanced degree and started looking for work, went on several interviews and found a great job, all while battling my heartache. I am trying to meet new people in my new city--not necessarily romantically but make some friends. I got so lucky that my first job is an amazing one that I truly enjoy. But it all feels a little dull, like something is missing. Like he, specifically, is missing. And even though I know he's just playing games with me when he swings back into my life, I feel like I can't close that door completely. I know I deserve better and yet I keep torturing myself with the "what ifs"; that maybe I really *am* the love of his life and maybe this is just a trial that will make us stronger in the long run. I'm not even sad, really. I just don't feel at peace. I want the peace of mind and I know this lingering on the periphery is not good for either of us emotionally. But I don't feel strong enough to cut off all contact with him. I am generally a strong willed person, and I think that not allowing my life to fall apart in the interim is testament to that.

 

So why am I torturing myself with the scraps he tosses my way, never really satisfied that its enough but not willing to walk away from someone I love, someone who seems to be hurting?

 

Sorry for the novel. Any advice, anything would be welcome, appreciated, whatever.

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Hi there and welcome to ENA!

 

I don't have any answers, or direct advice. It sounds like you're doing lots of positive stuff in your life. It seems there is part of you that wants to keep in touch with your ex-bf, yet part of you is aware of the difficulties he has in his life.

 

I wonder if you partly hope he can sort his stuff out, and become the man you want him to be?

 

That may happen. It may not

 

In the mix with all that, is the fact that you were together 3 years. There must have been good memories of at least some of that time, otherwise you wouldn't have been together 3 years!

 

How long do *you* think you should keep up contact with him? either as friends, or "to see what might happen"?

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In my opinion, you should communicate to him that the contact is hurting you. It's time for him to figure out what he wants. He is in a bad place, it sucks and it's good that he is taking steps, but this is unfair to you. All this personal growth could have occurred with you two still together, but he chose to end things. Now he seems to be half in and half out.

 

It seems like things between you are civil, but it also seems like he is stringing you along while he deals with his issues.

 

You want someone who knows they want you. If he is still unsure, cutting contact (although hard) will help you move on. You don't want to get him back into the relationship, you want him to realize it himself and be sure of it. While he thinks about that, it may be best for you to act as if it's over for good.

 

Good luck.

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Hi John, thank you for the reply and the welcome!!

 

There is a part of me that wants to keep in touch, for the exact reason you specify. That if he can sort this stuff out, then things could be great. I do feel torn though. There's a part of me that looks at us being together for three years, and having hoped for the last six months that this was just a huge mistake, and wonder how much more of my life and energy and brainpower I should give to someone who seems to be able to turn off his feelings for me at will.

 

The truth is, I don't think I should keep in contact with him. In my brain, I know that to be true. I know that if he really wanted things to work he would initiate contact with me, if he wanted. Yet, I know that staying in touch with him, in the meantime, is confusing. He goes from saying he loves me, wants to visit, asks about job opportunities in the area, to saying he's just not sure what the future holds for us. This is a recurring pattern and it is my fault for allowing it to continue.

 

My heart, though, feels like you should fight for those you love. I know he's finally starting to face some of his demons for the first time, and I feel like I would be a terrible person for not putting aside the discomfort the situation causes me to be there to support him.

 

I feel really torn between wanting to walk away for peace of mind and (it sounds stupid actually putting this into words now) hoping he will see that I'm the kind of woman that is going to be there through thick and thin.

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Depression is tricky. The girl I love just left me after 4,5 years, for the second time. While I am devastated, I both understand and respect her. She is wonderful and deserves to be happy. She really gave it her all, while I failed to step up. This was due to me not fully appreciating I needed more help than I sought.

 

So...I know this experience was needed to truly start mending myself. I will see to it. And I want her back albeit she is more than likely gone for good. That is my cards dealt, and right now it seems too painful to even accept them, or even forgive myself.

 

You seem very sweet and considerate. And clearly feel for this guy. If you want to have an inside view of someone who recognises his own role with depression in a relationship, have a look at my posts. He truly needs to be honest with both you and himself to have a fighting chance. To me, it does not really seem he has reached that point yet...

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Wow, yeah. You really hit the nail on the head. The half in and half out thing is particularly astute. It would be so much easier even if he said its over than to have the little bit of him that he gives now. But I guess its easier for him to give a little bit and keep me around as well than pull the plug and lose me for good. You're right that cutting contact is best for me, and its a realization that I have slowly begun to accept. Sometimes I guess it just takes hearing that from someone else. So thank you for your words of wisdom and the well wishes.

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H3nk1, thank you for offering to show me the other side. I will definitely check out your posts. I have dealt with depression all too intimately, as my father was clinically depressed and committed suicide when I was 10. Part of me wonders if the reason its so hard to let go is partly bound up with my personal experience of depression.

 

I feel for you. It takes a lot of courage to face your demons, and I see a lot of courage in your words. I'm sorry for your devastation and loss. Hang in there.

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H3nk1, thank you for offering to show me the other side. I will definitely check out your posts. I have dealt with depression all too intimately, as my father was clinically depressed and committed suicide when I was 10. Part of me wonders if the reason its so hard to let go is partly bound up with my personal experience of depression.

 

I feel for you. It takes a lot of courage to face your demons, and I see a lot of courage in your words. I'm sorry for your devastation and loss. Hang in there.

 

That pains me to hear, I am sorry. It might be you have a higher degree of understanding of-, or even attachment issues related with people having emotional issues. That is of course hard to say, and is not too important. You are what you are.

 

All I can say is that he might truly love you. But you can only do so much to help him. Perhaps the best you can do for him is to play hard ball..

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Oh H3nk1, I just went through a handful of your posts and I had to come back here to comment. Your pain is so fresh. I am so very sorry. I have done my best to keep living since our breakup six months ago, but it wasn't always easy. I remember being in that extremely raw place for the first couple of months and I am so sorry you are there now. I know you are looking for a job now (unless you have found one since the postings I read) and I can say that, for me, finding a new job and moving to a new city has helped keep *some* of the utter despair at bay. It gave me a project, I guess, to keep my mind busy but it also gave me an immense boost of confidence and self-esteem that I had earned, all on my own, without him. And that made me proud. I saw that you said your education/career have left you wanting. As cheesy as it sounds, this is probably a great time to reinvent yourself.

 

Thank you for your words. I do have a question, however. What do you mean by "perhaps the best you can do for him is play hard ball?"

 

I will continue to read your posts and hopefully share some insight. I am rooting for you!

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Really appreciate your words, thank you. I am confused about what to do or where to go from here. Be it reinvention or more career emptiness. Chaos.

 

I think it is clear that contact with him is holding you back.. And you are hurting badly. He also has his demons.

 

Sigh. I hate to suggest things on other peoples behalf. But you might consider going NC and try out the thought of letting go (how absurd it is for me to say such a thing when I am so far from acceptance).

 

It seems your heart and patience do not bring forth action and consistency from the man.. Perhaps he will find his way more easily if you leave him be..?

 

Feel free to drop me PM anytime.

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As harsh as this sounds, you cant fix him or be his saviour. He needs to sort out his demons and fix himself.

 

My Sister committed suicide after battling her own depression and alcoholism. Nothing anyone could do could save her. My family all tried, but she just couldn't deal with things anymore. Everyone feels their own level of guilt, but it wasn't anyones fault.

 

You need to move on & start living your life, and if/when he sorts out his & is healthy he can come and find you. If he cant it just wasn't meant to be.

 

Good luck.

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Somewhere we get the notion that we should fight for the things we love.

 

It is true to a degree, but there is a caveat. You can't fight more than the other person is willing to give. Personal demons are just that. Personal. You can only offer so much support and love. In the end, it is up to them.

 

My sister suffers through depression and has for many years.

 

In some ways, it is like trying to save somebody drowning. By pure reaction, they will drag you down in an effort to grasp more air. It is NOT immoral or inhumane to take care of yourself first and find a life line, but in the end, they may not accept it. It is something they need to do on their own.

 

Work on yourself. Cut contact, but do it in a support way. Make him understand that you will be there for him when it's ready, in some capacity, but right now you are drowning with him. That's not what he wants.

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Really appreciate your words, thank you. I am confused about what to do or where to go from here. Be it reinvention or more career emptiness. Chaos.

 

I think it is clear that contact with him is holding you back.. And you are hurting badly. He also has his demons.

 

Sigh. I hate to suggest things on other peoples behalf. But you might consider going NC and try out the thought of letting go (how absurd it is for me to say such a thing when I am so far from acceptance).

 

It seems your heart and patience do not bring forth action and consistency from the man.. Perhaps he will find his way more easily if you leave him be..?

 

Feel free to drop me PM anytime.

 

Hey, don't beat yourself up. I helped (and am still helping!)a friend who was going through a very terrible break up (that involved cheating and the contraction of disease, yikes!) around the same time as mine. I could parrot all of the really good advice about breakups and heartaches that I had learned over the years, but I felt like such a hypocrite saying them. We can see other's problems with clarity in a way that we can't see our own. Too close to the situation and all. So while you may be "far from acceptance", that's ok! It doesn't make you absurd for suggesting healthy strategies for coping with pain even if you are having trouble implementing the same for yourself right now.

 

You're right that he is so inconsistent. I don't understand what he gets out of it. It just confuses me. Perhaps he is confused as well. I guess no matter the reasons if I want to be at peace it is on my shoulders to make choices consistent with that desire..and that means cutting off contact.

 

Please feel free to PM me anytime as well!

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As harsh as this sounds, you cant fix him or be his saviour. He needs to sort out his demons and fix himself.

 

My Sister committed suicide after battling her own depression and alcoholism. Nothing anyone could do could save her. My family all tried, but she just couldn't deal with things anymore. Everyone feels their own level of guilt, but it wasn't anyones fault.

 

You need to move on & start living your life, and if/when he sorts out his & is healthy he can come and find you. If he cant it just wasn't meant to be.

 

Good luck.

 

Doesn't sound harsh at all. Thank you. I think for the longest time I did want to save him and thought that was noble. I have accepted now that that is very unhealthy on my part.

 

I am sorry for the loss of your sister. You are right that that wasn't anyone's fault even though those left behind are usually plagued with some sense of "if only I had...". I hope you have found some peace. Best wishes to you.

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It sounds like you know what you need to do. The depression issues could last a lifetime. He obviously has a tough time keeping a job. Get off the roller coaster ride of the past, and truly move forward. You will not be able to move forward while he's throwing you crumbs. If a man wants you he will stop at nothing to have you. His on and off feelings will wreck your life. I know, I've been there, and am there again now. Good luck.

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I am having such a hard time today. I finally screwed up the courage last night to send him a message that was supportive and loving but that also made clear that I had to do what's best for me and that the inconsistency in the things he says and does are just too confusing. I didn't get a response and I don't really expect one. Especially since his reaction his to ignore me whenever I stand up for myself and then I usually cave because I miss him. Why does it hurt so much when I know this is the right thing to do for myself? I really truly want us to work things out, breaking up was never what I wanted. I can hardly think straight or concentrate at work. I want to cry and cried myself to sleep. How do I stay strong and commit to NC when none of this is what I want?

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Hi Queenie. I feel a lot like you, I texted my ex I needed NC and wasn't going to be friends with her bc it hurts too much. It's like choosing between hurt, and more hurt. I chose to not be in contact to avoid possible future hurt, but I still have to deal with the present hurt caused by us breaking up. Breaking up was something I could never agree to. I love her too much. She made my life complete. I wanted to work things out but she couldn't. What you say about you standing up for yourself and him ignoring you for it, I can relate to very much. I never once opened my mouth while in the relationship, went along with almost everything she desired.. (I'm not saying I'm an angel, but I did surely not have enough spine to overcome the love I felt for her). The first time when I decided to stand up for myself, she was completely blown. I said something like, that we are different people (everybody is!) and that I didn't agree to some of her priorities, and next thing I know we are on a break. All of a sudden she had doubts about us. I got her back after two weeks by acting indifferent, but a few months later we had a fight - I stood up for myself, I told her I thought she was spending more time with her friends than with me, and also when her friends ask something she JUMPS, but when I ask something.. it's a bother) so we had this fight, and BAM she had doubts again. Pretty tiring if you ask me. I tried for months to overcome our troubles but she just wouldn't try, it was like in her head I was already pushed at friends zone and nothing could change it.... Upto today the breakup is NOT what I wanted, but I don't have any other choice. And neither do you.

 

I think it really is between choosing to be hurt, and choosing to be hurt more and that's the way you should look at it.. That should keep you in NC.

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Lucha, I'm sorry to hear about your pain. Your ex sounds so much like mine, it is eerie. Your message, particularly about choosing hurt and more hurt, really helped get me through the day. Until I got home, and I'm back to all these thoughts swirling. I hate his no reaction. Not that I wrote that message to him to get a reaction, but he hasn't even dignified it with "ok, I understand". That makes me want to reach out all the more.

 

*sigh* I just don't know how to do this. It feels like we did when we initially broke up six months ago. That pain has hit me again with full force and the pain of knowing that I can keep contact with him but he will only give me enough to keep hanging on, but not enough to be truly happy or be together.

 

I really find myself wanting to tell him to forget that I asked for no contact, that I want to talk things through but that's futile, isn't it? and weak? I hate feeling so weak.

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Oh my.. I know how hard it is to get no response. Or rather, I wrote my heart out to my ex, and got a few cold words in response. It is horrible. And yet I will probably do this once more when I am more grounded. Just to have my own closure in knowing I have nothing more to say. Namely: That I take responsibility for my depression for the first time in my life, that I am sorry for not doing so earlier, that I hope she will reconsider if time and distance allows it, and that I want the best for her.

 

See, I think you are really feeling the same fears as before.. That being it is probably over. For good. That is pain incarnate, and if you are anything like me, you are scared to death about it. I know I am.

 

I think you need to face this fear head on. Sooner rather than later. Sigh. I am still avoiding it through hope and writing on a letter to her. It makes me feel like there is still contact between us. Yet I hope I am in a process with all this crying and pain. Nights and dreams are the worst. Waking up talking to her like none of this ever happened. One second of joy before the real nightmare hits. Every day.

 

Look at me, ranting. The point is I think you have all to gain by walking through the fire with NC. Regardless of you two getting back together, you will be better prepared if you face this fear!

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H3nk1, don't apologize for ranting! I enjoy your insights. I think you are exactly right. I don't want to accept that it's over for good. That we will never speak again. It is terrifying. You're right that I need to face this fear. Don't beat yourself up. I guess I prolonged it for six months by staying in contact with him. You're trying, and that's the best we can do sometimes.

 

I know how you feel when you say nights and waking up is the worst. When reality hits you in the face the moment you wake up, its hard to feel like you can face the day with any strength at all. It helps knowing there are other brave souls dealing with this too.

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