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My Girlfriend (29F) Broke up With me (31M) After the Loss of her Father

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Hi all,

This is my first time posting here, and I’m not sure what I aim to take away from the post. I feel so utterly torn to pieces, that I just need to write this down and have others share their thoughts. I live in a very rural area, so my immediate friend circle is very, very small (and I’m socially anxious, which doesn’t help) - hence seeking help here. I just want to make sense of what went wrong, where and how to move forward from this paralysis.

As per the title, my girlfriend broke up with me on Thursday. Following a period of relationship doubts which she informed me of a week prior to breaking up - and a month after losing her father to cancer.

Considering the length of the relationship, I am completely beside myself to how she decided to end it completely in the period of a week - with absolutely no desire to work through the issues.

I guess I should give an overview of our relationship. Both the good and the bad.

We saw and talked to each other in work on our breaks from time to time, and I was immediately drawn to her. She was beautiful and we clicked instantly. I wanted to ask her out, but I was far too afraid! Funnily enough though, it turns out she had a crush on me as well - but was also too afraid to ask me out. A friend told me that she was on Bumble, so I registered, found her and we soon got dating. We were on cloud nine.

We were very open from the start, but she needed some coaxing (open communication wise) during the early stages of the relationship. I told her very early on, that I’ve battled with anxiety and depression in the past. Caused by 2 traumatic long-term relationships. I often had to manage separation anxiety and trust issues as a result - but I had been working through these issues for months prior, with the help of a therapist. 

She was fine with this, and welcomed my openness and honesty.

She then went on to open up and told me that she had lost her mother to cancer when she was 18. During her first year at Edinburgh university. The impact of this was huge on her life and she admitted to starting smoking, sleeping with guys and drinking. I also welcomed her telling me this - as she had clearly come a long way to where she is now, with the help of her friends, family and therapist. She also said she still suffers from SAD and that she was taking medication. Again, I was totally fine with this.

Over a year went by, and everything was textbook perfect. Until we encountered our first hurdle - she sat me down and told me that she wants to travel Australia and NZ for 3 months on her own. I was initially fine with this, but then my separation anxiety kicked in hard (not good on my part). I had to come clean and tell her that I’d struggle with that idea, but that I was accepting that she wanted to go and that I wanted and needed to work through it. I think she had doubts initially but agreed that she’d love to remain a couple. As a bonus, we arranged to meet in southern NZ to embark on the last stage of her traveling together - as something for me to aim for.

More time passed, and her trip drew closer. My anxiety flared up really badly the week or so prior to her leaving (I had an anxiety attack on a night out with her) and I was heartbroken seeing her leave. I opened up therapy again. 

However, my trust issues ended up consuming me - as she was partying with other people on the other side of the world. My issues almost drove her away, as I started to suffocate her - I knew this, and I knew this was make or break. But I was determined to keep working with my therapist to stop my behaviour (my social circle was still tiny). We persevered, I improved and eventually we met in NZ, where we proceeded to have an unforgettable trip. It was also so emotional, as we could finally talk in-person about what happened during the weeks before.

The trip was over, we both came home and everything was fine again. Relationship wise, we recovered from climbing a mountain - and we felt stronger than ever as a result.

A couple of years pass, with no issues - just pure enjoyment, honesty and love. We had the occasional disagreement, but these were tiny, day-to-day things and we always communicated clearly, calmly and always constructively. Although, she did have to work through some passive-aggressiveness, which she overcame with time. We moved into a rented house together after the COVID period for about a year, but moved back out due to some difficulties with our landlord.

Over a year passed, and onto our next hurdle, and this was the biggest yet. My trust issues had been squashed by this point and we felt completely relaxed together. Until she had a house party at her place and was sexually assaulted whilst she was drunk. I didn’t know about this until the morning after, where I saw her and knew something wasn’t right. She broke down, and told me everything. Her and a childhood friend got into bed together, extremely drunk and he proceeded to lay hands on her after she said no repeatedly. She didn’t physically stop him and it didn’t lead to sex.

This was huge and rocked both of us. She was confused as to why it happened and it re-wrote everything for me - as I initially thought she had cheated on me, but I could tell there was zero maliciousness. It turns out she felt a lack of intimacy between the two of us (a pretty normal thing to experience in a LTR), and maybe what drove the situation to happen. But she was never sure, as she was adamant she didn’t consent and that she was barely sober enough to remember her thoughts at the time of the incident. She was utterly torn apart by all of this, she felt violated and opened up therapy again. I took some time to think about what happened and decided I wanted to help her through this. We got through bad times before, now we can get through this.

Months pass and we worked through intimacy issues and she managed to recover from the house party incident. Although she continued to go to therapy to help continue building herself. This period, was amazing - we were a true power couple. She was healing, driving her own business and I was working through progressing my career. The perfect relationship.

I knew her father had a brain tumour removed whilst her mother had cancer, and we always knew it would come back. Last year this happened - he was given a prognosis of 3 months. After this, everything turned upside down.

I took a back seat and accepted that now was the time for her family. I continued to see her as often as I could and to be there for her when she needed it. He deteriorated extremely quickly and my girlfriend and her siblings turned into 24/7 carers for about 2 months. This was a difficult time, but I stuck with her as I always did.

Come the 2nd of January - I’m at work and receive a call from my girlfriend to say that he had died peacefully and that she wanted to me come over ASAP. I did, we just held each other and cried.

From then until now had been difficult, I struggled with seeing her father pass away. The funeral was extremely tough. She now had no parents and I’d never encountered this with immediate family. She was obviously grieving the loss, but seemed to be coping well overall. The family is very close and seeing her father go through that, made me think about my life more - I opened up about my childhood fear of death and told her that it was something that had entered my mind again. Although I was able to deal with it much better now.

Last week, she mentioned that she had doubts about the relationship. Stating that the little things that bothered her before are now things she couldn’t ignore, and she wasn’t sure if we could work through them. She felt that our goals didn’t align, I became a little withdrawn (I was processing grief at the time), I didn’t seem happy, I was a little snappy and she didn’t know if there was a future with me. She was going to talk to her therapist the following week to see if she’d feel different, then we’d talk about it again. Resuming normality in between that time, which was what I thought was being a caring, loving couple. Although my anxiety was very present here, I remained as honest and open as I could with her. We both had days where we’d just cry together.

The time comes, and I meet her at her studio - to where I can see it in her eyes. She breaks into tears and tells me that she can’t shake the doubts and doesn’t think things will change. My negativity, my temperament is something she doesn’t want her future children to grow up with. I cry, and I beg for her to give us a chance to work through this as we always have done - but she shakes her head. She’s done.

I know we weren’t perfect, I know I had my issues - but I’m struggling to cope, I’m struggling to find what I did amongst the fog of break up. My anxiety it back, and so is my depression. I’ve booked an appointment with a new therapist next week, but I have an entire weekend to battle through.

I just want help. I’m not angry with her and I still love her with all that I have. She is still the kindest soul I have ever met and we worked through so much.

I just want to fall into an eternal sleep and be done with this. I’ve lost the biggest piece of me.

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Please  call a mental health hotline if you are feeling this down. I hope you feel better. Perfection is not the standard. In your situation it was dicey more than it wasn’t and I respect you chose to take the risks you did but it sure was risky to get involved in this situation. I hope you feel much better. 

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From what you wrote I feel you are doing fairly well. The allusions to not wanting to be present any longer are concerning, however. Please reach out for immediate help if you feel you need it.

I'm sorry about this. I understand how painful this is. 

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I'm sorry you're hurting over this. Not being with the one you love, someone you've spent that much time with and gone through so much joy and pain with, is difficult. You have every right to feel sad and lost over this. Healing isn't easy and it doesn't happen over night, but know that you can get through it. Life does get better.

It seems there is a natural instinct to run on her part when something major happens. The loss of her mother pushed her to unhealthy behaviors in her grief. Now that she has lost her father, she's pushed you away. Part of that is probably real concerns she has. Part of that may be a coping mechanism to help her deal with everything she is feeling. Regardless, know that you've done everything you could. You've been there for her and supported her through good times and bad. Things weren't perfect, but they never are. She needs to do what is best for her and heal however she needs to heal. Just try to be a friend to her. There's no good guy or bad guy here, it's just a sucky situation all around. 

Someone once told me she couldn't shake her doubts and that things wouldn't change. She said she was done. I cried and pleaded. I still loved her with all I had. I felt my one chance was over and I wanted to be done with everything. But I kept going, even when the days were a struggle. Slowly I felt better. I found things to care about and throw myself into. And a funny thing happened. I got closer to someone even better. What I thought was the destination was just a detour towards something else. 

Things get better. There is a rainbow and a pot of gold out there somewhere after this storm. Keep the faith.

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