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So Torn about my significant other
December 13, 2003
2:38 am
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LIBA
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I have been seeing a wonderful man for 1 1/2 years. I know he cares about me and makes every effort to show it. The problem is he is divorced and living in a house with his ex (they have separate bedrooms) because of their 14 year old austistic son (with Aspergers syndrome - highly functioning autism). He has a demanding job that has consumed his time over the past three months. He has a step-daughter who had been in and out of drug treatment since she was 14 (now is turning 20 and still gets into trouble all the time - they keep bailing her out). He carries issues with him from his childhood. He doesn't drink because of a history of alcoholism in his family. On days when he is overwhelmed he sends me e-mails that can be very distressing to me - because the pressures on his life are constant and as much as I try to stay detached - it really drags me down at times and the only reason I stick with this is because of him.

I know I have low self-esteem and some co-dependent behavoirs. I'm 43 and am tired of going in and out of dead end relationships. There is a future for us - but couldn't be realized for another year or more.

I don't want to break up yet I want to learn how to cope with the circumstances - and wish he would too since he has a very short fuse and little things upset him easily. I don't want to be sucked into the unhealthy world he lives in - yet I am involved with him so I do.

Some days I think I should just walk away it is so unhealthy for me. But I care so much about him I want to be patient. I have learned to be more autonomous and happy with myself. But I have my bad days too where I don't think I can take it anymore.

I have lived with depression all my life and don't want to get dragged back into that bad place that took me so long to get out of. Anyhow - today was one of those bad days.

December 13, 2003
3:06 am
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vegas
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It doesn't bother you that he's living with his ex? Have you met her?

You mentioned that you have dealt with depression all your life...so I assume then you're in counselling. Do you talk about this during your sessions?

LIBA, I know the difficulty of leaving. There is that fear of the pain you know that will accompany leaving him. But, you really need to do what is best of LIBA.

I can see where you would have to be strong for him. He has a lot of issues to deal with. And respect that he is trying his best to handle these two children...particularly the young boy as I have worked with autistic children and know they can be a handufl. But, you're unhappy. Why? Cuz he is overwhelmed? Cuz he doesn't give you your share of attention?

Talk things out with him. I know you don't want to put more things on his plate...but if he loves you, he will hear you out. And when you have this conversation, pay attention to how you feel. I think you already know what you need to do. Just find it in you to do it.

you'll find help and support here. You'll be okay.

TAke care,
vegas

December 13, 2003
3:24 am
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LIBA
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Hi Vegas - oh - it bothers me. It bothers him. he is only in that situation because of his son. They are too concerned that the two of them living in separate places and shuffling him back and forth would cause him to have a break-down. He has had them before because of pressures at school and they had to admit him into a hospital psyche ward.

I've met his ex - many times. I have spent the night with him while she is there too. She has a boyfriend too who stays with her at the house. I do not like the circumstances and he knows it - but again - it is only for their son that it is tolerated. While things have to be the way they are - it is best I have minimal contact with the ex - as I do not respect her.

I know - it's crazy. But the realities of relationships can be so different than the fantasies we created in our minds.

And yes - though we are in touch every day - time together is very limited. So at times I feel neglected. He is spread way too thin and trying to accomodate all. So - I like to give him breathing room too, as I can understand how hard it can be for him. I also realize that I have put way too much importance on his feedback and feelings for my happiness - and have been making good progress on that front.

I am not in therapy now. I have been on and off for years. I will go back if I just don't feel I can cope utilizing the tools I have learned to rely on.

The positive thing is when I do need to talk to him - he makes the time to talk. Like I said - he is a good person - just in a very very complicated life.

Thanks for your feed back. When we do talk I feel better. I think part of being involved with him is learning where my boundaries are better and honoring them. Because they often are not clear to me is where I fall into such turmoil.

Again - thanks - I appreciate the support.

December 13, 2003
9:43 am
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mj
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Hugs Liba....

December 13, 2003
9:47 am
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Zinnie
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Hugs too Liba,

Will write more later, have to work today.

Lot's to say on this subject, but mostly good!

Love,

Zinnie

December 14, 2003
3:16 am
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Zinnie
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Hi Liba,

First and foremost, recognize this man for the good person he is - which it sounds as if you do. I have a brother in-law who is border line Autistic, and another one who is mentally handicapped from a broken chromosome. To my dying day, my Mother-in-Law has my utmost respect for the job she did raising them. So many people run out on these situations, and I know we have some wonderful men on this site and not to generalize, but think of how many other Fathers would go running quickly from the scene?

But, one question I do have is, what is going to really be the resolution to the situation? In dealing with a person with Autism, it is not like when they turn 18 you can say "oh, see ya later - you are now an adult." So, what does he and his ex-wife plan on doing about that situation? This is going to be a life time committment, even after they pass away they will have to have some one who can care for this boy.

The daughter? I'm one of those people that think too many people bail their kids out of trouble too much these days. Which is part of the reason so many of them keep doing the things that they do. But again I have to commend him for continuing to support her, as again so many people especially involving a step-child when they are no longer involved they just cut the ties and that hurts the kids.

So many people don't understand why I still keep up and treat my step-children from my first marriage as my own. When I married their Dad, I took them on too, and promised to love them as my own. When he passed away, that did not change. Their Mom and I get along, and she to this day keeps me involved in decisions regarding the kids, and now includes my husband.

Speaking of, the first year he and I were married we were living in the US, and we wanted to spend Christmas with the kids so we returned to Canada. We were going to rent a hotel suite, and the kids Mom said "absolutely not!" We stayed there in the house, she had the extra room, and that way the kids had the best of all worlds. Again, that speaks volumes of all of you that you can all get along for the sake of the kids.

But, at the same time of all of these gold stars you are earning, I can also understand your frustration. If you have suffered with depression, and you feel you are falling into it, get to your counselor, and Dr. now. See what you can do, and work through what you are really feeling regarding remaining in this relationship.

He sounds like a good man, and I understand completely why you want to stay with him. But, at the same time if this is bringing you down, then perhaps you need to look at the situation as a whole, and also the long term reality of it.

What is best for you?

Love,

Zinnie

December 14, 2003
3:58 am
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vegas
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Hi, Liba,

Your boyfriend sounds like a good guy. But Zinnie already touched upon something that I too want to ask...okay, I understand the reasoning behind your bf still living with his ex. But, is this how it's going to be long term?

When I was doing therapy with the autistic kids--we followed Ovar Lovaas' "applied behavioral analysis" model of therapy, with discrete trials and what not if you're familiar--we tried to teach them how to cope and survive in a quote/unquote normal world. That meant giving them skills to function in life AS THEY WOULD LIVE IT. I'm not sure if that's making sense, but let me give examples.

I worked with a boy who I'll call Red. Red was the second oldest of 6 children. Red was very low on that functioning-spectrum. Also, he had a brother with high-functioning autism. Anyhow, since Red's life involved his siblings, therapy was held in the midst of all his siblings and their activities.

Another example: I worked with a savant autistic little girl who I'll call Bird. SHe was a genius in a tiny body which needed constant physical stimulation. She was always scratching herself or talking at high volumes for her to hear herself. Anyhow, Bird couldn't grasp that there are more people in the world than Mom, Dad, the pet parrot, and her therapists. Since her parents wanted BIrd to attend public school with other normal children, part of her therapy was to integrate Bird with other kids her age.

I don't know what kind of therapy, if any, your bf's son is getting. I also can't say I know what is best for the boy. But, maybe you could ask your bf what are the chances of his son trying to learn how to function with dad in one place, mom in another. I realize change is terrifying to the autistic, but isn't it to everyone?

Your bf sounds like he needs a vacation from, not only work, but his life...even if for a short while. Maybe you and bf can go to the spa or something for a Xmas treat. 😉

love, Vegas

December 14, 2003
3:22 pm
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LIBA
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Zinnie and Vegas - both of you have made some very good points. Thank you for your input. It is helpful and makes me think some more about the situation.

I am doing much better the past couple of days. Like I said - I have my bad days, but it is balanced with good days too. My depression is pretty well managed now, and most of the time I feel relatively even keel (highs and lows feel 'normal' - not extreme). I have considered going back to therapy to talk about the situation - and will if I feel I am too overwhelmed to cope with it solo

My Boyfriend could use a vacation. Actually he has mentioned the two of us ALONE traveling to Florida to visit his parent next spring. I hope that does happen.

We have discussed the issue reagarding his son and the living situation. My understanding is that they want to wait and see how he develops through High School and then make a decision to move into separate living situations. I think they do plan to change that in the long term. However - I will bring it up to him - after the holidays. He's pretty stressed about that right now! I honestly don't think he could give me an answer right now.

They also have been vigilant about keeping him in educational programs that help him develop with his autism in school and beyond.

His son is high functioning Autistic and he told me he can lead a pretty normal life as an adult. His son is very bright and cognitive - his autism has to do with seeing things black and white and not understanding social cues. He will get repetitive and say something over and over incessantly, he obsesses about stuff and has done stuff like pick at himself or poke at himself to the point of injuring himself when he was younger. I guess he hasn't done that for a couple of years now.

If you first met his son you would think he was just a normal 14 year old.

Anyhow - today I feel good about this and everything will be ok in the long term. The hard times really have given me excellent growth opportunities. I feel stronger and better about myself as I learn to be more assertive in the relationship 🙂 My guy understands that. I am really lucky to have him in my life after all the rotten guys I chose before because of my low self-esteem!

Thanks again 🙂 Bell well.

December 14, 2003
3:25 pm
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LIBA
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Zinnie - regarding the daughter - I told my guy that they should stop bailing her out, they are just enabling her.

He told me they did it because it was the holidays and he couldn't bring himself to do it.

Anyhow - I agree. They have to stop doing that. She has to crash all the way and hopefully decide she's had enough, and take full responsibility for her actions and the consequences because of them.

December 16, 2003
4:39 am
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Zinnie
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Hi Liba,

I know it's hard when you see people who have drug and or alcohol problems. You want so much to help them, and until they reach that bottom sadly, you can't.

However, I think too many parents bail their kids out far too much. I know that sounds cruel, but it's true. Good example? Have you seen the movie Traffic? If you have, or if you have not, the scene where the parents (Michael Douglas) are called to the police station to pick up their daughter. When they see their daughter, both parents rush forward and hug her, and are crying because she has been through this horrible. Forget the fact that she was strung out on heroin, and had in fact jumped a friend of hers on the E/R steps dead. They were so upset about this horrible ordeal that had happened to their child.

My parents, although in some ways I feel I could write a book on all the wrong things they did, they also did a lot of things right. But, bottom line I KNEW from a young age, had I been arrested for anything, the safest bet would have been for me to just stay in jail. About the only reason my parents would come running toward me as I walked out of jail would be to deliver a round house right. Was that so bad? I don't know, it seemed to keep me out of trouble.

Again, I commend your boyfriend for sticking it out there, and being the help he is to his ex-wife. Like I said, in all honesty, it speaks volumes for his character.

I hope things are going well for you today.

Love,

Zinnie

December 17, 2003
2:04 am
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LIBA
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Zinnie - thanks again for the kind words. I did see Traffic. Amazing movie.

Yes - he is a wonderful man. On top of that - his step daughters father is the one who bailed. It is so sad.

I think he sacrifices so much for the current situation. I am still doing very well - I am actually surprised at myself. I ususally have a few good days and then fall back. But I guess I made a break through (about damn time!!!). It only took me 43 years - oiy! Now he is sick again (had bronchitis about a month ago). It is one thing after another in his life. And for the first time - I am being supportive without feeling the need to help and fix everything. I can't anyway so why kill myself trying.

It still hurts to feel helpless at times because I care - but I can pray and just be a positive part of his life. God knows he needs that more than anything.

take care.

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