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Growing up
February 5, 2005
10:35 am
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BlackCat
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Greetings...
I read some of the threads this morning and decided I would join and post some of my thoughts...
I just wrote my first letter of apology to my last girlfriend. I'm a walking disaster when it comes to relationships. An Adult-Child in every sense of the term. My adult life is a history of failed relationships; moreover, I ALWAYS blamed 'her' for the inevitable failure. In the past two weeks or so, a little light bulb went off, and slowly but surely, I'm understanding that I never took responsibility for my behavior. I've never really owned my feelings; quite adept at telling myself that I felt a certain way because of how I was treated. This power I've given others in my life is devastating, and I'm understanding that I always had a choice to act on my feelings instead of avoiding a rational decision making process. I tend to choose emotionally unavailable women, but would stay because....hey...I was in a relationship. Better than nothing...??
Back to the letter I wrote. I finally took responsibility for my childish and hurtful behavior. Acting out, whining, crying, being afraid, passive aggressiveness, sulking...not a pretty picture. The realization of how my behavior pushes me out of relationships hit me like a ton of bricks. I've kept the emails I sent "Lara" (not her real name)...and they are a testiment of my manipulativeness; try and make someone feel badly for what I've perceived instead of understanding my feelings. I can no longer attribute my behavior to my insecurities, or lack of coping skills, or my self-defined 'sensitivity'... Whatever I lack in terms of coping with normal situations is not an excuse for behaving badly. This is work that I must focus on; in the meantime, I can't go back and apologize to those I've left in my destructive wake. The letter of apology I wrote wasn't the easiest thing for me as it forced me to be honest with myself; while I'm not sure she will believe me, I can't blame her. I accept this, painful as it is.
I'm finally focusing on taking care of myself; this isn't easy for me, but I'm finally ready. I'm still scared and feel lonely at times, but it is better than feeling like I'm a helpless little boy.
Comments are welcomed and appreciated in advance..
BlackCat

February 5, 2005
11:04 am
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addicts wife
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BLack CAT....
Well you're right about it not being easy.. BUT you sould like youve made great strides in your self awareness, adn improvement... Claiming your emotions, and rolling around in the crap of it all is A HUGe beginning to "owning" your emotions, actions etc.. It does take a lot of work, and it's work that you have to remember is worth it!!! YOU are worth it. NOw, from experience... not everyone will be too receptive to your groeth, and letters etc, but it's important ot remember that you are NOT doing this for their acceptance, you are doing it for your growth, and owning up to and Betonf your past present and future.. taking responsibility for all it is about you, even the parts you dont like, and being able to "get the tools" you need to do all this.. andPut those tools in your (metaphoric) toolbox..... you're on your way... one day at a time, one baby step at a time.....

February 5, 2005
11:07 am
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I just re rad your post, and I failed ot mention that although I dont know you, I am proud of you for having your "moment of clarity" and being able to acton it... there are some oout there who never get thisfar... Keep going... "it works if you work it"

February 5, 2005
11:24 am
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sdesigns
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Hi BlackCat: Congratulations for being a humble person and admitting your faults and the courage to change. That is very commendable. But more than that, the fact that you wrote a sincere apology to someone you harmed shows that you did in fact value that person. I know that in itself would mean so much to the recipent. As you've probably read from these boards, so much pain is caused by bad behavior and breakups w/ no closure or explanation gives so much heartache. I think that shows compassion and responsible behavior on your part. Congratulations. SD

February 5, 2005
12:11 pm
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Hi there, BlackCat. Thanks for your very honest, humble & enlightening post. May I ask a few questions, please? It would really, really help me get a different handle on several issues in my own relationships ... and it answering may help you clarify things too.
What sort of 'manipulative' behaviour did you do? In what ways were you 'childish and hurtful'? And what kind of things did you 'whine' about, & how did you 'sulk'? Did you know you were like this in the situations? ... Or is it only recently that you have realised how you came across?

Were you desperately wanting to get an emotional response? To get their full attention and sympathy? To be understood?

Whenever I've behaved that way, I have been so wrapped up in my own misery & hyper-sensitivity that I've been oblivious to how my distress- signals were affecting other people. I was always so preoccupied about how I couldn't cope, how easily embarrassed & 'knocked down' I felt. And I always somehow expected my boyfriend(s) to be above those feelings themselves. My own self-esteem & confidence were / are so low that I always imagined everyone else to be somehow MORE REAL than me ... more confident, more certain, and better able to handle their reactions. Also less highly-strung, less sensitive etc. than me. (I felt like 'a special case'! Cringe! )
I never realised how they must have perceived my behaviour - as being too demanding, too idealistic, too perfectionist, and expecting too much. So they gave up on me, cos I seemed impossible to please.

One dear love of my life felt he could never live up to my expectations, because he too had low self-esteem & confidence himself, and was also v intensely emotional but hid it behind his shyness. He struggled to portray himself as more mature, successful etc than he was, and secretly hated himself for presenting himself as a lie. Whereas I saw him as a big, strong personality who was shutting me out of his more glamorous life!

Oh dear, what admissions of failure! I would really appreciate any answers, or descriptions, or any feedback on this.
I truly believe EMPATHY with others ... walking a mile in their shoes, with vivid emotional imagination of their possible points of view, is my way forward.

Funny how much easier it is to do that on here with total strangers across the ocean ... but not close to home in my own life, where fear of pain, of misunderstanding, of vulnerability & of emotional loss rules my every move! 🙁

February 5, 2005
1:38 pm
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BlackCat
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Dear Gazellle….
I certainly wasn’t prepared to receive a request like this, so bear with me.
Manipulative?? Let me count the ways. Knowing that someone does not have the capacity to express their emotions, especially love, just the way one wants, but demanding that they do is manipulative. My girlfriend had enough going on in her life with work, school, her children… While it took me this long (we broke up almost 6 months ago) to realize this, I know that I pressured her by crying, telling her she didn’t meet my emotional needs, wanting to be with her all the time, calling and emailing her at work, when she clearly communicated her boundaries. I didn’t listen. I pushed her to the point of avoiding me…not exactly what I wanted….yet I persisted. I would sulk by not responding to her when she did make attempts to communicate (passive) because I wanted her to respond to me on my terms. If I really didn’t like how we got along, I should have told her so; I could have attempted to negotiate, accept her boundaries, or move on. I didn’t do any of these. Instead, I felt unwanted, unloved, rejected…walked around with knots in my stomach…. I acted like a little boy; fearing rejection, emotional (crying) outbursts, clinging to any attention I could get. Drove her further away. I ruined two vacations because of my behavior; moreover, and very telling, was when one of her friends mouthed the word ‘a** hole’ during a game we were playing. Evidence that others saw me as an insecure childish man. The charming aspects of my character are overshadowed by my inability to own my feelings; I blamed her for ‘making’ me feel insignificant. In fact, she opened up to me in ways I never thought she could. I wanted more and wanted it ‘now’…
I’m not the most trusting man, and have ‘triggers’ that send me into despair. My behavior is rather unbecoming… Yes….I knew how I was behaving; made it worse for me. Like I was trying to crawl out of the hole I dug, but kept slipping…the hole got deeper and deeper. She did her best to communicate that she was incapable of meeting my demands; I just didn’t listen. I know that she saw my good qualities and this is why she tried to tough it out. It wasn’t enough in the long run…it never has been. I too have felt as you described; so wrapped up in my emotions that I couldn’t see the impact I had. Knowing that I behaved badly only sent me into further depths of fear….I’ve never acknowledged that I’m the one responsible for my relationship failures. While painful, I know that taking responsibility is key for me – thus the letter I sent. I now need to work on those ‘triggers’ and learn new and mature coping skills when I feel discomfort or fear.

Not sure if this answers your questions; I don't have all the answers..still making sense of all this.

Regards,

BlackCat

February 5, 2005
2:01 pm
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gazelle
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O wow! Many hearfelt thanks for such open replies, BlackCat. You could be my emotional twin! I have to go away for the weekend now, but will post more on Monday. You have given me so much to mull over now, by reflecting back to me my very own behaviours from a different angle. Thanks!

I too come across as very needy (sometimes even clingy - cringe!) I definitely think it's something to do with never feeling properly acknowledged or understood. I never thought of myself as 'manipulative' before, but perhaps I have been.

Would it help to label our behaviour more benignly perhaps, as just clumsy, immature and inappropriate attempts to gain the attention , respect & understanding everyone deserves? I have been told (by my ex-Love, now still a good Friend) that those are perfectly legitimate hum an needs; but that I need to develop more appropriate & effective ways of addressing them. It's ok to ask for what one needs (even on our own terms sometimes) ... so long as we fully accept the needs of others too - on THEIR terms. And that we accept compliments and show pleasure when they come our way! (which is something I still cannot do!) What do you think?
Happy weekend, and 'see you' on monday. Blessings - gazelle.

February 5, 2005
2:14 pm
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gazelle
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PS. Isn't becoming aware of one's immaturity a sign of positive change? Isn't admitting to 'weaknesses' like fear, clinginess, tears, insecurity, childishness etc actually a sign of inner courage? How many people - esp. men - would have the nerve to do that?!
Most people spend most of their lives 'in denial' of who they really are - concerned with keeping up a front and presenting a persona to the world that they think will be acceptable / admirable ... often at great cost to inner growth and peace. I see your honesty about perceived 'weaknesses' as huge strengths in the making. And honourable & brave in themselves. Even writing about them is part of a spiritual growth-spurt! Hoorah.

February 5, 2005
5:28 pm
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Sometimes when I feel very down about my own co-dependence, I realize that there are others who go through the same thing... I have really appreciated the words of wisdom that come from those who continue to remind me that I need to feel my feelings--- in the moment. The other thing I have tried more of is not always acting immediately on my feelings. This has been so hard! But it has allowed me some think time before I use my usual responses--whining, sulking, attention getting crying, etc... For so long I have thought I have been in tune with everyone else's feelings, it is very unusual to really get at what I'm truly feeling. I hope this helps, it is been my way of battling the loneliness and fear and self blame that comes with realizing how manipualtive and damaging my feelings can be to other friends and family. ~moongirl

February 6, 2005
12:21 am
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Black Cat,
To have a guy post their feelings here, to have a guy get in touch with what HE may have done, and is taking steps to do that is such an example to set here, so as a female, I appreciate this thread. The fact that you have thougth this out, and are willing to see yourself honestly is fantastic. The tables are turned so to speak. Generally it is us girls trying to figure out what went wrong with no closure, and we are told to be storong and move on...when it is not that easy. Just trying to understand the emotions of it all. So here you come along, and you are human and you have shared another side to it all.

I wish that I had received a letter of which you speak to send your girlfriend...I hope that you find answers and comfort in that. I hope that she receives it, and you positively. Frankly, I would be floored, I absolutely think it is awesome!!

February 6, 2005
1:51 am
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BlackCat
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Dear all...
Important is the fact that this is just the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I may be at a point of taking responsibility, but much work is ahead as I learn to change my behavior.

on my way.....I appreciate your words. Please know that I doubt that my ex will ever 'accept' my letter at face value; the damage I caused is overwhelming even to me, and she might see this as just another manipulative foray to re-open the door. One's perception is one's reality, and my past behavior probably obliterated any chance of redeeming myself and I don't blame her. My motive and intent are clear to me....probably jaded in her eyes. This is what I must accept but it tears me apart....and is one of those unintended consequences of my inability to maintain responsibility in our relationship. I'm sad....

February 6, 2005
6:26 am
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hi Black cat, thank you for your thread,it has answerd so many of my questions my ex boyfreind acted in very similar ways and it always left thinking it was about me,take last weekend for instance,cause i am just learning to set boundries i said no to him about something,and his reaction was really hurtful,and that left me feeling yet once again thinking it was about me,but after reading your thread i can now look at his reaction in a different light, thank you once again,
Could i ask when you were reacting the way you were, did you know at the time you were doing it or was it after when you looked back,hope you dont mind me asking ...karen

February 6, 2005
9:39 am
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BlackCat
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Karen....sure I 'knew' but was oblivious..if you get what I mean.

The times that this behavior surfaced occured when I felt I was being ignored (after being asked to not disturb her while she concentrated on school) or not getting affection or thinking she was paying too much attention to others. I would then get into my anxious mode and the cycle would begin.

February 6, 2005
12:31 pm
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thanks blackcat, would you mind if i asked your opinion on this i feel asamed asking really,but it may answer a few things for me,last weekend he asked me if i would help out with his train fair up to see me he lives 120 miles away he has no work either and he is suffering from depression,but i said no cuse it hurt my feelings i felt if he wanted to see me that he should pay,he has always paid for lots of things but not so much lately,well he realy took me by surprise he said be like that told me to p off then sent me a nasty email with a nasty face he said it was a virus,he hasnt said sorry or tried to call me for 8 days i dont understand why he is doing this ......karen

February 6, 2005
1:09 pm
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BlackCat
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Karen...
Only he knows for sure...well maybe...why he is acting out like this.
Depressed? Because he isn't working? Is he actively doing anything to improve is 'job status'? Collecting unemployment? Does he live at home? How does he get by day-to-day if he isn't working??
Whatever the reason you had for not wanting to pay for his fare belongs to you; if he can't accept this rationally, then it is his problem. Sounds like you care about him...doesn't sound like he is taking responsibility for his status though. No one deserves treatment like this; if he is this mean because of you setting a $$ boundry, what else looms???
He, in my opinion, has three choices. Accept your boundaries maturely (knowing that you care about him), negotiate (say Karen, I'm just a little short on the fare and as soon as I get some $$, I'll pay you back), or decide not to accept your boundaries.
Don't think for a minute that I haven't been in his shoes... If he wants to talk about this as an adult, that's one thing. However, he has a responsibility to maintain the well being of your relationship (as you do)...being mean doesn't fit that bill in my opinion...
Regards,
BlackCat

February 6, 2005
1:24 pm
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BlackCat, I can respect your feelings, and attitudes, and yes it does take time. I did the same thing in a relationship of mine that I had, I pushed and pushed, all due to abandonment issues that I had. I have not made any attempts to totally reconcile either, and I understand what you say by them being jaded.
So, as I have done...I take comfort in knowing that I am not the same person, I to recognize my mistakea, have learned from them....as we all do, we all change. I think the horror comes when someone we once cared for cannot see that or does not want too. I too was treated badly on some counts...mostly due to my perceptions, or self-esteem. On the other hand, if this gentleman wanted to come back into my life, I would welcome it, not because he may of changed, but because I know that I have changed. All in all it is a sad story. But there are times too let go and times to pursue what is important.
It is important for you to work on you though, it sounds like you may be in a 12 Step program, and you are making amends?

February 6, 2005
1:35 pm
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onmyway...
thanks for the return msg...
Very succinct..it is horrifying that your former partner will never accept that you did (or even can for that matter), change...not much you can do about that though.
I am not in a 12 step program. I did, during my second marriage, go to some meetings - it was more for me to get a grip on her alcoholism....and to some degree, my co-dependance. I've arrived at this point because of (finally) some hard introspective and cognitive work and the fortune of finding a good therapist.

Regards,
BlackCat

February 6, 2005
1:43 pm
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And Regards to ou as well. You are aware, you are taking positive steps for yourself, and that is all you need to do. Good luck to you.

February 6, 2005
1:47 pm
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Oh, and the other thing...is that my former partner does not know I am not the same person...have not spoken to him in over a year. I do beleive that people, if you care, should not have a jaded opinion. There are relationships out there that have failed but don't have too...few and far between, but there are some.

February 6, 2005
2:11 pm
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thanks Blackcat for repling to me.i think i need to take a look at myself again i was so pleased with myself for saying no,but the abuse that came along with it seems to of set me back,but not for long i have come to the right place were people are being kind and thoughtful,thanks once again,you have come a long way i havent actually come across someone that is willing to admit to their unreasonable behaviour it is a truly nice thing to see......karen

February 6, 2005
2:27 pm
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Hi BlackCat,

Fist off, I would like to applaud you for doing the most admirable step in your life: Self-Honesty!!! Bravo, God bless you!

I also admire you, cause men are very self-conscious.

I have a male friend who is like you used to be: irresponsible, childish, keeps moving from one girl friend to another, totally in denial about his life, wearing a mask of being strong and happy when he is so insecure. I tried to give him a wake-up call to his irresponsible life. Right now, I am praying for him.

Tell me what motivated your enlightment and redemption? Do you thin it takes long time for someone to change his bad conduct/behavior?

What is the best way to help a male friend who is right now in your previous situation? What is the best thing to make my friend realize that he is leading himself to suicide?

My prayers are with you,

Rasputin

February 6, 2005
4:18 pm
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BlackCat
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Thank you all for your kind comments. I'm still in a lot of pain, but it is better for me to accept rather than continue avoiding or blaming others...
Time is all relative. I've had the opportunity to realize my behavior so many times....I'd get to a point, understand that I was behaving badly, but couldn't get over the next hurdle.
I just may post my letter of apology to my ex..but not quite ready; plus I need to apply some anonymity stuff to it..
At any rate...

Some caveats first. I'm still in a lot of pain because I still care for and love my ex G/F. With the exception of the letter I sent last Thursday; I have called once a week for several months, but no return calls.
What did it take. The first thing I did was write out, on a pad of paper, the many women I've had in my life. I'm almost 50 years old, and have no problem meeting or establishing relatioships. Mind you, the BIGGEST fear I had in most of these relationships, especially when I saw the end was near, was...I'm going to be alone forever..and I would successfully wheedle my way back in for a while. Didn't last long though.
In spite of the therapy I've had for so many years, I never got to the point where I could realize that my behavior, my feelings, my 'reality', my view of the world, was totally responsible for the results that I experienced. I'm not saying that women in my life were always the best. At last count, I've had at least 6 women who have cheated on me. The women who were nice and treated me with respect??? I would leave them because they were 'too boring'. What an excuse.
My last relationship wasn't the best; bbut something clicked in my head several weeks ago.
I was brought up with good values. I'm a decent man. I'm charming, funny, witty, and a great problem solver. As I begin to 'peel back the onion' I realize that I never learned certain coping skills.. My Mother was always there to comfort me when I was in a relationship distress 'mode'. Until she passed away in 2001, I leaned on her to validate how badly her 'little boy' was treated. This enabled me to NOT accept my behavior and focus on my partner's treatment of me.
What happened recently is this:
1. Mom isn't there any more. God bless her.
2. I never learned to depend on myself when I was hurting..
3. I always blamed others for what happened..
4. I didn't grasp the concept that me feelings were my own; if someone treated me badly, I could have walked away...but I didn't.

Maintaining healthy relationships means that we take responsibility for our actions and their consequences, including the unintended consequences.
I've never undestood this until now.
Responsibility is key, at least for me. It has taken me 32 years to understand this. I think that the reality of how devastated I've been at the numerous failed relationships, realizing the devastation I've created in my former partner's lives, the fact that I see a therapist twice a week, and finally understanding the concept of owning my feelings...all contributes to where I am.
Suicide? Never an option. Your friend might need counseling or intervention...
Desire and motivation comes from within...if your friend has neither, you can't make him do or realize anything.

Regards,

BlackCat

February 6, 2005
8:45 pm
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Rasputin
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Hi BlackCat,

Thank you for your wisdom and insight.

Wow!!! I can't believe that. Why is it so difficult for men to become wise and mature, I do not understand that. But I believe if all or most men on earth decide to grow up like you; we will have heaven on earth!!!

No more resentful women about the infidelity of their hubbies. I hope and pray that my male friend is taking the same road you are taking now.

By the way, when I refered to my friend's suicide, I meant spiritual/emotional suicide, not physical one. Because a life like that will definitely lead to both spiritual and emotional death; as I am sure you are familiar with, since you were living this kind of life before. I call such life a life of a "lie".

I will keep you informed about any progress about my friend!

God bless,

Rasputin

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