Young Widow Forum

Time Frame => Beyond Active Grieving => Topic started by: CHM1988 on October 26, 2017, 04:16:57 PM

Title: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: CHM1988 on October 26, 2017, 04:16:57 PM
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.
Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: Wife of Tomasz on October 26, 2017, 08:45:02 PM
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
Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: Bunny on October 27, 2017, 08:09:23 AM
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.
Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: Mizpah on October 27, 2017, 09:19:56 AM
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 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. 
Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: Toosoon2.0 on October 27, 2017, 03:53:42 PM
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
Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: Trying on October 30, 2017, 10:36:59 AM
I'm sorry to hear how much you are hurting.  You are very insightful about how your grief is affecting you and your current relationship now you just need to reach out for help.  I know very well how difficult this is.  I only recently, as I was approaching the 4 year mark, got the courage to agree to an antidepressant.  I have been through therapy and thought I was doing well enough, I was about to marry a great man, but I just wasn't "happy", I had a lot of anxiety, quick to anger, and my motivation was very low.  It's been a few months on the medication and it is helping but I am still a work in progress.  After 4 years I have developed new patterns that will take a while for me to change.  For me, a big thing is giving myself permission to be happy, healthy and productive even though my DH was denied that too young.

I hope you continue to post here, the more we are each open to talk about these long term effects of losing a partner the more likely we are to get help and stop feeling alone and ashamed.
Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: trying2breathe on October 30, 2017, 11:28:08 AM
CHM  I'm sorry that you're dealing with this - I relate to your post as I feel much like you do, in a new relationship and it's great but I'm not willing to make a full commitment as I fear what could happen.  Therapy has helped me in figuring out how to move forward in a relationship but I know that if NG wasn't so very patient with me it wouldn't work out between us.  No words of wisdom here other than to say that communication is important, and to think about sharing how and why you feel the way you do with him.  It sounds as if the love for him is there, it's just hard to fully express it and that's certainly understandable.
Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: CHM1988 on November 01, 2017, 01:29:44 PM
Thank you all for these responses. I was sitting there reading them on Sunday morning, crying. I know a lot of you said that you didn't have much wisdom to offer but just knowing that there are others out there with similar feelings and experiences is so meaningful. I wish none of us had to go through this, but for me one of the hardest aspects of grief is how isolated I sometimes feel from my friends and peers, especially since I was only 25 when he died. I can't ever underestimate the power of hearing from others and knowing that I'm not alone in this.

TooSoon2.0 I'm so glad that my post has encouraged you to talk more - it is SO important! That isolation feeling can lead to some really bad behavior, I think. And at least for me I get convinced that there's no one out there who understands so what's the point of reaching out anyway, but that's not true!

Mizpah Interesting that you used the phrase "fight or flight," as my bf points that out about my behavior all the time. Your response was really helpful and meaningful, thank you!

Bunny I would definitely recommend giving therapy a try. just the chance to sit there and air your feelings and thoughts out can be really helpful.

Thank you to everyone for your responses. Big hugs!!!
Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: Toosoon2.0 on November 04, 2017, 08:29:48 AM
Hi there, 

I've been wanting to respond to this thread again for a while but just couldn't find the time or the words.  This year in some ways should have been the best but somehow its been the worst.  The election happened and that was hard for me; every day what is going on remains hard for me because I feel like everything I value, the rock upon which I have built my own life and was building my daughter's life, no longer feels solid.  Agree with me or not, that is my reality.  It has shaken the already shaky equilibrium I have built these last five years.  My husband didn't die until February 2013 but by October 2012 we started a long slog to death. I think I'm still pretty traumatized by it.  This time of year is always hard for that reason, too; it always feels like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop like the end of 2012.

My reality is that I never got a break.  I maybe could have figured out a way to take one, to figure some of this shit out, but I was a wreck and couldn't think straight for a long time and no one stepped in and said, "Hey, maybe you need to take some time to figure this out."  It was my job to "get normal" and keep moving and "get on with it" for the child, so that's what I did and now I think I am paying for it dearly.  And so are the people I love - I am making them miserable.

One of the reasons your post resonated with me is that - and this is hard for me to admit - I am deeply, deeply unhappy.  A lot of it has to do with knowing that my career is over, wanting to move on to do what I know I want to do but I am trapped, for now, for an indeterminate period of time.  I have to hold the insurance until a time comes when my husband can take over and I can change my career trajectory (I married a widower I met here who is not American and who still doesn't have a green card so he can't work.  I would never have chosen otherwise but it is stressful for me to be the only one earning and to be working just to carry everyone's insurance and while I know it is temporary and an investment in our long term plan, its just plan hard).  Anyway, I'm getting off track...

I get myself so stressed out that I eventually freak out and melt down and it is never pretty.  I'm so conditioned to hold it all together  - I feel like for 7 years that is what I have been doing and I hold it in and hold it in and hold it in until it all comes out in a deeply unpleasant torrent that makes everyone unhappy, myself included.  I know therapy would help but I'm not motivated, I don't want to spend the money, and I am not sure there's time while also knowing if there's anything I should make time for it is that.  I don't even know what to call the place I am in but the best way I can describe it is invisible.  It was supposed to be getting better but its not.

Last night we went to the movies.  After we went to a bar down the street that I used to go to all the time in my old life; it was where we all went after my late husband's memorial, in fact.  I've been there many times with Andy (my now husband) but not for many, many months.  It completely set me off.  I did not want to be there.  I did not want to see the staff who know me from my old life. I was expecting to  know some people there but I didn't know anyone anymore.   I just completely freaked out.  Cannot explain it.  I totally took all of my anger and resentment and feelings of failure about my career and the weird isolation being back in that bar where I felt not like a regular any longer but like a relic out on Andy for absolutely no reason.  It was like my equilibrium is so fragile that, with some "liquid courage,"  it all just came apart in an instant.  I don't like admitting this but its true and it happens too often. 

I may not be making much sense here, which would be apt because nothing seems to make sense to me right now.  I was supposed to be feeling settled and grounded.  Married, child is doing great, we're finally on the same continent.  But that is not the case for me.  I am f*cking miserable and I do not know how to fix it.  It reminds me of a Langston Hughes poem called "Final Curve." "When you turn the corner and run into yourself, then you know you've turned all the corners that are left." 

Sorry for the rant.  All I really meant to say is that I am struggling, too, and also feel isolated.  I pick fights with the person I love the most and I do not know why.  I don't have the answers but I do understand. 

Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: RobFTC on November 05, 2017, 10:25:24 PM
Sorry for the rant.  All I really meant to say is that I am struggling, too, and also feel isolated.

I read it, and I hear you - and I'm sorry.  It is a crappy time of year for me, too - I just dumped a lot of stress on my girls this evening, and I am ashamed and trying to figure out what I can do now.  I hope you can get some peace.

Take care,
Rob T

PS: I believe in therapy; it saved me once and eased my path several other times.
Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: tybec on November 06, 2017, 08:00:09 AM
Thanks for sharing this.  I am struggling with lots, and it helps to know I am not alone.

I am moody, looking extreme.  From joyous to crying in the shower deeply, hiding it.  I hate it.  I know it will all pass. Things will settle down.  Nothing stays forever in this state.

The last of the lasts are here again.  I am in a new home, new place, and no one knows me except what I share.  It is freeing yet almost feels like a lie.  Just a mess of emotions.

Thanks for the brutal honesty.  It helps to read it.

Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: Mizpah on November 06, 2017, 09:21:40 AM
"When you turn the corner and run into yourself, then you know you've turned all the corners that are left."

I too have trouble with extremes.  As a full-time working professional with a lot of professional responsibility, a long commute, a 3-year-old daughter for whom I'm almost entirely responsible, a partner with really long difficult hours, a partner who's a widower, etc., etc., I spend most of my time being super competent, and trying to be even more so.  It's exhausting.  There's no wiggle room.  There's no relief from ultimate responsibility for all things.  We went out this weekend, just the two of us, and I said, "I absolutely cannot drink much tonight.  You know how the earth has a crust and a mantle, etc., well, I'm more like a thin crust, and just beneath it to the center is thick, burning lava rage."  I'm not sure how much of this is widowhood-related, except that my life with DH was far easier and had way less struggle and way fewer tasks that fell on me, and we didn't have kids....  Anyway, my point: I know what it's like to have an emotional/temper hair trigger.  It's not pretty.  My goal this year is to find patience.  I think that even though it's at times hard for those around me because of this rage, it's way harder to actually be me and carry it inside.  It's not like, "I can't continue like this," because I absolutely can.  I just really would prefer not to.  I'm not sure how to find the path to betterment in this regard.  I'm open to wisdom
Title: Re: Trouble with current boyfriend
Post by: CHM1988 on November 09, 2017, 09:16:47 AM
Everyone's posts here mean a lot. People keep saying they can't offer much but just knowing that I'm not the only one struggling with this stuff is so meaningful. TooSoon it's really  brave of you to admit to yourself and to us here that you are unhappy. I know that for me, and what I'm getting from some others here too, is that I so want everything to be fine and great that I won't give into feelings of unhappiness. So I don't get help for them, and I get angry when I feel them and it's just this cycle that totally holds me back. I think admitting unhappiness is a really important step that a lot of people don't do and therefore do not get better from. You are taking an important step!

Sending all the love and support to everyone.