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Anyone have specific advice on how to start trusting?
April 16, 2009
3:57 pm
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sooverthis
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Hi...

I have recently discovered that I am wholly codependent, and am taking steps in recovery. I've been attending Al-Anon meetings, and all reading every book about codendency that I can get my hands on.

My #1 issue to overcome is trust. I trust my friends, I trust my family, but I can NEVER trust the person who I am in a romantic relationship with.

I have been cheated on by every boyfriend thus far, either physically or emotionally. I really WANT to trust my current boyfriend, who I've been with for about 4 years. He's in recovery and very involved with AA.

I don't even know how to start the process. I know I will probably learn through Al-Anon...but I want to get started now. It's so hard not to have obsessive thoughts...and scour his Facebook to see if he's added any new girls to his friends. Then I will find one and see that she's left some sort of comment, and I will literally obsess about it until I ask him who she is, how he knows her...etc, etc.

I don't want to be this girl! I constantly think he's interested in other girls...and I constantly think he wants someone who's more this and more that...instead of just who I AM.

Ah! I need to stop this crazy line of thinking...it's making my life hard to live. I hate it.

Does anyone have any meditations, or little tricks that I can use when my mind starts to retreat into this disatrous cycle of thinking?

April 16, 2009
4:11 pm
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StronginHim77
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First of all, welcome to the threads and please accept my praise and encouragement for your new participation in Al-Anon. It has helped alot of us who find ourselves involved with alcoholics (or other toxic partners).

You shared that your boyfriend of 4 years is in recovery. I am assuming that his addiction of choice was alcohol, since you mentioned AA. Has he been in active recovery during the entire four years that you have been together? Or is this a recent transition for you both?

Let me share my own heart with you. Remember that I am an OLDE lady (one of the oldest on these threads), so my viewpoint may be completely different from that of younger, more "in tune" posters. But here it is.

If my boyfriend were on FACEBOOK and occasionally added the photos of new, FEMALE "friends," (who posted cute little comments), I would have a problem with him. Bigtime. I know that many young people participate in MYSPACE, FACEBOOK, etc. And I have seen alot of trouble result from the sites.

Are you actually living with this guy, having intimate relations with him or simply "dating" him in the old-fashioned sense (meaning, NO sex)? If the two of you are intimate, I am assuming serious commitment should exist on both sides of this partnership. That means that each of you would do ANYTHING to avoid hurting or upsetting the other party. And that would include your boyfriend voluntarily removing himself from FACEBOOK, if you find it upsetting or troubling.

Period.

This would be a deal breaker for me. I don't really consider you suspicious, paranoid or out of line in your feelings about this. It would bother me, too.

Perhaps, it would help if you sat down with him and explained how you felt. Evaluate REALISTICALLY just how committed this guy is to you. Are you getting married? Engaged? Any dates set for either event?

If he is still craving and seeking attention from other females, that would be a red flag for me...part of the addiction recovery package.

Waiting to hear back from you...

- Ma Strong

April 16, 2009
4:32 pm
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sooverthis
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Ma Strong,

Thank you so much for your reply.

The story of our relationship is a long one, but here it goes: (you will see the numerous reasons why I have a problem trusting him).

We met at work in 2005, he was married, but getting separated. And he was still using. We starting dating as soon as he and his "wife" were living separately. (Yes, I know it was a mistake, but we can't take it back.)

I soon realized he was an alcoholic (he's not the first one I've dated--classic coda), but I was in denial about it because I was so infatuated with him, and I just didn't want to deal with it.

It finally got so bad that I broke up with him, but I told him that if he ever decided to go to rehab, I would drive him there. Because I truly loved him and wanted him to get help, but I knew I needed to remove myself from the situation.

Two days after we broke up, he got together with another girl. He'd basically been emotionally cheating on me with her (lining her up, for when we broke up), the SAME thing he did with me and his ex-wife). It broke my heart. It was the worst betrayal I've ever felt, experienced.

About 3-4 months after that he called me and I drove him to rehab. He told me that being around this girl, who encouraged and participated in his alcoholism and drug use, actually helped him make up his mind about going to rehab, because he didn't want to be like her. (She was a bit older than him).

He had no family in the area, and basically I am the only person that cared about him enough to go to the family sessions, etc. All of his friends were the worst, most horrible people--and influences on his recovery. (He is not friends with any of them anymore).

To short the story--he's been out of rehab for 3.5 years, had 2 slips, and has been VERY involved in AA for the past 6 months. We've decided we want to make it work...but our relationship is sick right now, because of both of our issues.

I've also found mutiple things (because I always snoop), like girls' first and last names written on pieces of paper in his bag. This happened about a month ago and it turned out to be this girl on the cover of a alternative sexy-type magazine...he told me that he just wanted to know what the magazine was about, etc. I was like "do I look like I have stupid written on my forehead?!" He finally fessed up...but things like that really weird me out. Why would he be looking at girls like that when I want more sex than him?

Yes, I agree, myspace and facebook have both done more damage to our relationship than good. I found out about the girl he started dating after we broke up on myspace. I have brought it up to him many times though, and I always feel like I am crazy for wanting him to delete his account. I want to be OK with him being friends with girls...ya know? I want to trust that he's not secretly chatting with them when I'm sleeping at night.

THIS IS SO LONG. Thank you for sticking it out. I don't know if that answered all your questions or not.

April 16, 2009
4:35 pm
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sooverthis
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Oh, and also, we've been living together since he got out of treatment.

April 16, 2009
4:59 pm
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StronginHim77
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Thanks for sharing your story.

This guy has a "history" of infidelity, a very common issue with alcoholics/addicts. They will hook up with whoever facilitates, enables or tolerates their first love which is their addiction of choice.

It is obvious that you really care about this guy, but I am seeing a relationship where YOU are doing most of the giving and he appears to be somewhat of a "taker." I don't want to be judgmental here. Obviously, he has his good points or you wouldn't have fallen in love with him in the first place.

However, the fact that he was willing to fool around with you while still married was (as you acknowledged) a huge, red flag. And he had another girl lined up, as soon as you, two, split. Another red flag.

You did take him back, despite his pattern of betrayal and "wandering eyes." Without counseling and healing for you BOTH, I don't see any relief for you in the future. You will never fully trust this guy...with good reason. His track record, his FACEBOOK postings...none of this bodes well for a stable, committed, trustworthy partner.

I hope you will focus on AL-ANON and learning as much as you can about codependency. Let me recommend some good books that helped me a great deal:

CODEPENDENT NO MORE by Melody Beatty

HOW TO SPOT A DANGEROUS MAN by Sandra Brown

WOMEN WHO LOVE TOO MUCH by Robin Norwood

Please do keep posting. This is not going to be a quick fix. You have a difficult road ahead of you, whether you leave him eventually or choose to stay the course. It is really important that you begin to focus on YOURSELF. Develop interests, hobbies and social friendships that do not include him or center around him. It really helps to have an independent life which does NOT revolve around the recovering alcoholic/addict.

I am sure you will receive some excellent input from other posters on this thread.

- Ma Strong

April 16, 2009
5:14 pm
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sooverthis
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Thank you so much for your advice. I am currently reading "Codependent No More". And plan to read the others.

My plan is to work on my own healing, and focus on myself.

The boyfriend is very much in my life right now, and I want it to work since we both know what our issues are--and there's no one I would rather have a healthy relationship with. (As far as I know...I guess).

I am giving this a go. If it continues to ruin me, I know what I need to do.

Thank you again.

April 16, 2009
5:27 pm
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Dear sooverthis,

Saw your question regarding trusting.

Many years ago I was taught that TRUST was not an on/off switch.
That concept had gotten me into a lot of pain and disease regarding my relationships, especially with men.

I embraced that TRUST could be seen as on a dimmer switch. That in certain ways I might sense/feel I could trust someone and in other ways I was not willing since there was no basis to do so. For example, I may choose to trust my lover that he will not be unfaithful, yet cannot trust he will follow a clean and sober path.

It seems to me that Trust is not an all or nothing concept. I am in control of the trust switch. I will give the benefit of trust until I experience something that tells me "Pay attention" For me it ultimately comes down to the question, "Would I ever do this to someone I love"? When the answer is clearly "No" my value system is telling me sometimes more than I want to listen to. We are the only ones who allow others to treat us in disrespectful ways.

If anything I have written/said is helpful for you ... great. Otherwise simply ignore me.

April 16, 2009
5:32 pm
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_anonymous
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Soverthis- You are lucky to have Ma Strong helping you out. I was married to an alcoholic and she openend my eyes up to what was going on. Everything she told me turned out to be true. So, you can trust her advice.

Trust is earned. You have a lot of evidence that your BF cant be trusted. the person you need to trust is yourself. I would not advise you to trust a person who is in facebook with females corresponding with him that would be crazy.

Your thoughts are not making you crazy your BF inappropriate communication with females is. The first warning sign that you might be in a toxic relationship is if you feel that your partner is doing things that make you feel like your life is becoming unmanageble.

His recovery and AA is about him. It really isnt about improving your life much less your relationship with him. The only thing that can improve your life is you and your willingness to work on yourself and to get the help that you need to have confidence again.

Please let us know what it is you are doing to focus on yourself?

April 16, 2009
7:52 pm
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sooverthis
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Thank you LittleSpirit & Destinystar.

So far, to focus on myself, I have been going to Al-Anon (only for a couple weeks), and reading "Codependent No More".

What else do you think I need to do?

I know that my boyfriend has proven that he can't be trusted, and he knows that. He tells me that he wants to earn my trust back, but then when I start to feel like I am trusting him, something will happen, and I feel like I'm starting all over again. It's frustrating for both of us.

I am hoping that in working on myself, and him working on himself, we will start to have a healthy, trusting relationship.

Maybe I'm wrong...maybe he just has a permanently wandering eye--and it's his personality, not his "using" behavior.

This is so hard. We've basically built a life together. We're not married, but we moved in together, and have a cat...etc. We almost broke up last week, but decided that we thought this relationship was worth it and we'd try, while both working on ourselves.

Is this just both of us being codependent and too afraid?

It would be a shame after everything we've been through together, to break up NOW, when we're actually working on recovery, ya know?

April 16, 2009
10:19 pm
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_anonymous
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soverthis- You are doing all you can do. You are doing the best you can do.

As far as the relationship is concerned there is no unity in division. A relationship is 2 people working together not 2 people working apart. The fact you split up and went back is the beginning of a downward spiral. Its called flip flopping. Its dysfunctional. If you split up moving back in doesnt work unless you have all of your issues resolved and are 100% sure that you can trust the person. Most people in recovery are told to avoid relationships until they are fully recovered because relationships interfere with recovery. Plus a person with drug and alcohol issues is impossible to be in a relationship with.

Any time your emotions or life revolves around whether or not a man is on face book chatting up females or whether or not you can trust someone means you are depending on him to make you feel good.

From what you posted these trust issues are interfering with your recovery. Instead of working on yourself you are filling your brain with negative thoughts, real thoughts, but negative thoughts. And this is not benefitting you.

Trust yourself. Trust what you see i.e. your man on face book recruiting other females. Then ask yourself is this what I want? Is this what I need?

I realize you are in a tough spot and it is heartbreaking when you realize that what you want and what you have are 2 different things. Then you have to grieve what you thought you had. Breaking up is always sad, and will always make you feel like you lost something. It is a lot of pain. But, staying with a man who is doing hurtful things is a lot more painful. If you leave the pain will decrease and go away gradually over time. If you stay the pain will increase and never go away.

April 17, 2009
7:59 am
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It No Longer Matters
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Sooverthis, two years ago I could have written your story. My BF and I lived next door to each other. I found his Match. com account and hacked my way in. I read emails that confirmed he could not be trusted. We fought, we made up. I bought all the books to read and came on here. Ma Strong and a few others spelled it out for me but I refused to listen. My situation was different. I KNEW deep down he loved me. He even moved another woman from another state in his house under the guise of helping her get on her feet. She was as big of alcoholic as he is. ( she has since moved back home and contacted me recently to let me know she has 10 months of sobriety and is working in a recovery center). I finally moved and we didn't speak for almost a month. He started calling, crying, begging, telling me how much he loved me. Like a fool I took him back.

What it was is that he needed the security of having me while he looked for my replacement. In October of 2007 he found her. I didn't get the full story until April of 2008 because her divorce wasn't settled. As soon as it started looking good he started weirding out on me again. I haven't been with him since. He did come see me the day after my father died. He has moved on to his next victim and I am here piecing my life back together. I am 41. Ma has told you she is older. Trust me or trust her...if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it IS a duck. Take care of YOU FIRST and let him worry about himself. I am the Poster Child flashing in Neon:
DO NOT BE LIKE ME

Bitsy

April 17, 2009
8:52 am
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RobynB
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Hi!

You've gotten a lot of good advice here. When I read your first post, I thought, "she sounds like me" - I also freak out at the mere thought of my bf with another woman and had a hard time trusting. Behaviors like checking his phone, harping on him for going to the bar, and constantly having to know his whereabouts made him feel terrible, because he wasn't doing anything wrong (which I foolishly "proved" by snooping time and time again). I had to recognize that my behavior was selfish; I was satisfying my own desires to not be vunerable while forcing him to bear himself to me. With help from this board, I was able to stop this behavior by realizing that I need to value myself more and acknowledge that this man chose me for a reason and that I can't invade him privacy.

With all that being said, note that my current bf is stable and honest. My former bf's have not been: cheaters, alcoholics, abusers, etc. Many of them had the "rebound" cycle down to a science; they need someone there to enable them, whether it is in their recovery OR their addiction. That's the key thing. It sounds like your boyfriend has very low self-esteem, and he needs a lot of attention from women to make him feel good about himself. That has nothing to do with you. He is the one who has all the issues, and it sounds like he is dragging you down.

Honestly, even when I was prying and spying, my bf ALWAYS tried to end the behavior that made me crazy, even if it was in a begrudging manner. So with that being said, he realized that he needed to try to help me, and that he cared enough to do so. If you think that he is not being an active participant in the relationship, then get out. Maybe part of the reason your own insecurities get to you is because you feel disposable to this man, and he has assisted that in the past by getting new girlfriends and having a new one waiting in the wings. That's not appropriate. That's him forcing you to feel uncomfortable because he knows he doesn't have the self-worth to keep you in his life.

I hope that some kind of resolution can come of this, because it's wonderful when two stable caring people can put aside things and work together to be healthy. But he may not have the tools to do this, even if he wants too. He needs to learn how to be alone first, which might never happen since attention from women is how he internalizes his "value" as a person.

Good luck to you and keep posting. We're all here for you!

April 17, 2009
9:18 am
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atalose
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You are getting some great advise from some pretty terrific people here soooverthis.

It’s great you are going to al-anon, be patient with yourself as that program is so new to you and like many of us, it’s taken us years of learning and habits that developed our codependency so we are not going to heal over night or in a week or a month, be patient.

The only thing I might add is, work hard on your snooping, I know that is hard and difficult but if you can learn to NOT obsessive about that, you begin to learn how to control yourself. And the more control you learn to have over yourself the better you are prepared to make healthy decisions for yourself.

Atalose

~~Hope has a place, but not above reality~~

April 17, 2009
5:31 pm
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sooverthis
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Bitsy, RobynB, & Atalose:

Thank you so much for all your advice. It makes me feel so much better to know that I'm not the only person that's felt this way.

My bf is really receptive to my concerns about this, and asks me over and over how he can earn my trust back. He is a very sensitive, caring guy--which is one of the reasons I fell in love with him. But sometimes I still feel like he's hiding stuff...he can be really secretive sometimes--but it could be my obsessive thoughts ruminating in my head, I don't know.

The guy I dated before him (for 3 years) treated me like shit and dangled girls right in front of me--AND when he would drink he would call me a bitch and a cunt, etc. I honestly think that this is where my co-depenency really started to rear its ugly head.

My current bf is the opposite...he's SO sensitive, sometimes almost too sensitive. But he's working on these things in his own recovery.

Right now, I'm in a good spot. But it's a day to day thing. So, we'll see.

Thank you again to everyone...you've made me feel so welcome here. I will definitely keep posting.

April 19, 2009
8:27 pm
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I have more to say, but...right now I'll say that I wish you the best!

April 20, 2009
4:34 pm
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copingslowly
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yeah, my dh is one of those "overly sensitive" guys...he wooed me with flowers and poems and songs. we're in our tenth year of marriage and his secretive drug use finally was discovered (red-handed). he's now in a rehab program but how does a person trust...when he's been through all this before, and worse? i almost wish he was having an affair so i could end the marriage, except i don't think i would even pick anyone else better for me. it's sad, isn't it? so just trust your gut feeling and care for yourself the best way possible. you deserve someone who will be open with you and doesn't have anything to hide.

April 21, 2009
8:54 am
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Healing.. and peace
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Sooverthis,

I really only have one thing to say about trusting, and relationships. YOU can not trust others, until YOU can trust and love yourself. Al-Anon is a source that can help you see this, and help you grow in spite of whatever problems your boyfriend has.

I feel that I'm not in a position to even suggest what to do or how to handle things with your boyfriend, as I've never experienced what you are presently.

My best to you, Healing and Peace

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