Time Frame > Beyond Active Grieving

Trouble with current boyfriend

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CHM1988:
Hi All, I haven't posted here in literally years, and I think a lot of the reason for that is denial. I haven't sought out help when I need it because I so don't want to face why I need help still. I'm coming up on the four year anniversary of my boyfriend's death in an accident (I'm a gay male, just fyi), and I have made great progress from those first months of hard grief but I have also internalized a lot and it's causing a lot of problems in my new relationship.

I met new guy only six months or so after my boyfriend's death. I never imagined it would get so serious but it did. He's an amazing guy, patient, loving and optimistic with me even when I'm at my worst.

But after all this time I still have trouble getting close to him. I protect myself from being too vulnerable or open around him because I'm so afraid of getting hurt again. We have really bad fights because of this, because he wants me to get the help I need to move forward in life with him. The fighting has been really bad lately because he had a heart procedure last month and I just was not/am not there for him around the time of it/during his recovery. He's a confident, well-measured guy and I took advantage of that and totally checked out because I couldn't handle the emotions around him having this procedure done. I could barely stand to be in the hospital with him on the day of the procedure, and left as soon as I could that night (he only had to stay one night). He's really hurt by this, and we've fought more which has made his recovery not as smooth as it should be. I feel terrible but I can't seem to stop myself from being short or cranky with him when he doesn't deserve it because of my own anxiety. Then things calm down, the voice in my head convinces me that everything's fine and I don't pursue help.

I was in therapy the first year after my boyfriend died then stopped, I don't think that therapist was right for me. Now I've been seeing a new therapist for a couple months and it's helping but my current BF really wants me to see a psychiatrist and I agree that this is something I should pursue but I keep putting it off. I put a lot of stuff off because I don't want to deal with it. I just hate thinking about the loss of my previous boyfriend so much that I'll do anything to confront it. And I'm protecting myself by not letting myself get too close to new BF out of fear something will happen to him, but I"m realizing now how that also "protects" me from being truly happy too.

I don't really know where I'm going with this post. Just had to ramble/vent, and am hoping to hear how others have coped with the long term effects of grief and particularly how it affects your relationships with others. And I'm being an extra basket case lately with the four year anniversary only a few weeks away. Sigh. Love and hugs to everyone here.

Wife of Tomasz:
Hi CHM,
I dont have any real words of wisdom. Just wanted to say that I get how that would be really hard. Its 25 month for me. I am still very crippled by the pain and spend most of my days in escapism from the real world. I also don't want to face anything about reality. I have not thought of having a new relationship so cant say anything about that. But you should know that most widows/ers have a really hard time with hospitals and illness of loved ones. It is just part of the territory. I freak out when holding my baby niece because I have this panicking fear that she will stop breathing. So I think that your difficulty in dealing with NG's illness is a very normal response. I have read many widow/er's stories on this subject and the irrational anxiety seems to be an inherent part of the widowed experience. It seems that it is something we have to fight for a long long time. I think you should be open with NG about how difficult our loss makes it for you in this situation. Good luck, hugs

Bunny:
Unfortunately, I cant offer any help, since I'm realizing I have similar issues myself. It's been a little over five years since my husband died. I've been with my boyfriend a little over three years and he's been having heart problems recently.

I grieved very hard for my husband that first couple of years. And now...I'm thinking my brain is trying to figure out how to stay semi-detached from both my husband and my boyfriend. I feel like there's something broken inside of me that I'm not ready to fix because it would mean truly feeling the loss of my husband again as well as making me incredibly vulnerable to being hurt by the loss of my boyfriend.

I mean, I also realize this is all bullshit because the pain from widowhood leaks out in little ways all the time in addition to the big expected triggers. And staying kinda detached from boyfriend isn't going to be able to lessen the pain of him dropping dead of a heart attack. But apparently my brain is stupid because it continues on with these fruitless endeavors. And yeah- it does affect our relationship. And I just can't seem to get my shit together in Life in general since my husband died.

I should add: I'm currently going through menopause and the symptoms for it are also some of the symptoms for grief so sometimes I'm just looking at my behavior/feelings and trying to figure out: is this widowed shit or menopause shit?

I've never been to therapy. I know I need it.

Mizpah:

--- Quote from: CHM1988 on October 26, 2017, 04:16:57 PM ---I put a lot of stuff off because I don't want to deal with it. I just hate thinking about the loss of my previous boyfriend so much that I'll do anything to confront it. And I'm protecting myself by not letting myself get too close to new BF out of fear something will happen to him, but I"m realizing now how that also "protects" me from being truly happy too.
--- End quote ---

I think you know what you need to do, you know what's right for you and, maybe most importantly, for your partner.  It sounds like he's really suffering from getting less than he needs, less than he deserves - and it seems like your problem with giving it has nothing to do with him and isn't personal.  If it IS personal, and maybe he's great but you're just not into him enough, that's another story, but it doesn't seem to be what you're saying.

I've been on the other side of this, been the one emotionally tortured by having a partner who is unwilling and/or unable to deal with his "stuff" (he's a widower too).  (So I guess I'm biased, and I'm sure that will come out in my "opinion.")  It's not fair to your partner.  With my partner, the nagging thing for me was this - "If he truly cares about me, how can he inflict suffering like this when it is purely voluntary and doesn't need to be, when he could choose not to?  How is this love?  This isn't love.  It's not supposed to hurt like this.  He's supposed to love and protect me, be my haven from suffering and the world, instead he's my biggest source of pain."  I constantly had to go through the same internal process: hurt by something he did or didn't do --> being distraught --> realizing, through this pain, that it wasn't personal --> feeling a bit better because I know it's about his limitations and not an expression of his love for me.  We've had major improvement.  But it's been at a cost.  And very often, for a long period of time, the situation simply was that he had a partner and I didn't, because he wasn't truly available to me. 

All that being said, I will say that I have been on your side of it, too, dealing with a loved one's illness absolutely horribly in my case, total fight or flight and I fled, because it was too upsetting to even contemplate what was happening and what could be the eventuality. 

I hope you can get yourself where you need to get to be able to enjoy this relationship and this person fully.  Think - if you do end up losing him to death one day, you will not only have the pain of losing him (which I don't think we can buffer ourselves from by being emotionally protective, honestly), and also the regret and guilt and sadness of not having allowed the relationship to be what it could have been. 

As for me, I delved deep into my grief.  I left no stone unturned.  I didn't shy away from anything.  And while I'm certainly not over anything or any of that garbage, I call my heart a starfish - I feel fully regenerated and totally available to love NG.  I won't say without fear, because (I'm also an accident widow) every time he's late, I jump to death as the only explanation and panic.  But I do love him without reserving any of myself away for protection.  Yeah, it hurts.  And if anything happens to him before me, it will HURT.  But I'm not going to give myself or him the short shrift (is that the phrase?) while we're alive and able to live and love. 

Is this the most preachy, obnoxious response ever?  I'm sorry.  Feel free to disregard.  Like I said, I'm biased from my own experience.  I hate to see widows and widowers less happy because of the aftershocks of grief.  Haven't we suffered enough?  The gift that keeps on f'ing giving.  Go to therapy!  Maybe bring your guy with you?  F*ck death.  What an @$$hole it is. 

Toosoon2.0:
Hi.  I decided to take a break from this board a while ago but I have continued to read.  Your post prompted me to sign up again so that I could respond.  A  lot of what you say resonates with me more than I would like it to and more than I want to admit.  I'm also on the same time frame.  I also have a lot of fear that sometimes translates as anger.  I fear I will die; he will die. It is not something I've been able to shake; I live with that fear ALL OF THE TIME.  I should go to counseling again.  I want to write more because I am at a place where I know I need some help.  I know I am making people in my life unhappy; I am unhappy and I am scared.  I'm searching for words that aren't political bc I know this forum is meant to be apolitical but what is happening in our country is affecting my ability to function, personally and professionally.  I hope that's not too controversial to say.  Right now I have to take a 10 year old trick or treating but I will write more soon.  I wanted you to know, though, that your post helped me realize that I need to talk more, that I need a community to help me keep moving through this.  Sending you no answers but a lot of love and empathy.  Christine

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