BreakupFilter, sort of: My former SO has left me doubting my worldview, my judgement and my sanity. That's a lot to carry on top of heartbreak, to say the least. I'm used to being a fairly confident and self-assured person; how do I get back there?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
To pre-empt the cries of 'Therapy!' - I'm doing that, and it is helping somewhat. Still, this is a mindfuck the like of which I have never experienced, and I'd really like to hear any advice and suggestions from people who've been through anything similar.
My former SO was, I thought, an ideal partner, and as crazy about me as I was about them. The relationship was positive, happy and drama-free, and had even got to a point where we'd talked about marriage a few times. Then, over a few short weeks, things slid and crashed and burned. Suddenly my kind, loving SO was a withdrawn sulky brat, hitting on other people and putting up profiles on dating websites, threatening breakups then begging me not to leave, sending strange email apologies that contradicted themselves from sentence to sentence, and generally stamping all over my emotions and giving me close to nothing in return, in many and various ways. It was such a drastic personality change that after hearing about what was going on, one of my friends seriously asked whether my SO was past the typical age of schizophrenia onset. (The answer's yes, although regardless I don't think it was that.)
Experiencing all this was awful, and made even more so by the flashes and flickers of my SO's former self that still came from time to time, in which they seemed genuinely surprised and horrified by their own behaviour. Finally they left, then sort-of came back, then sort-of left again, apologised then took back the apology, completely denied conversations that had happened a week before, and on, and on… After a few months of all of this, I made the decision to cut this person out of my life absolutely and permanently, and don't regret that.
My former SO grew up in an abusive household (something I didn't know about until after all this started), and has only recently started getting therapy to deal with various stuff arising from that. I don't think mental health issues excuse bad behaviour, but objectively I can appreciate that there were mental health issues going on there that weren't my fault. That's some small comfort.
So, I'm definitely better of out of it. But now that I am out of it, I find myself questioning everything - not just about that relationship, but about my own beliefs re: relationships in a wider sense. I had no idea my partner was the kind of person who could do anything like that; does this mean that there's something wrong with my perception, since I don't even see any red flags in retrospect, or does it mean that people who are capable of such things can hide it so convincingly I'll never know how to spot it? I didn't think people acted like this, with the total personality flip; what else might I be wrong about? Was the person I thought I was involved with real, or a convincing fiction, or what? Former SO's behaviour seems, to me and to everyone I've spoken to about it (therapist included), to be downright bizarre - but since former SO clearly doesn't think so, how do I know I'm not the one going crazy? And how am I going to trust anyone, myself included, in the future?
Objectively, I can understand that this person's behaviour was unacceptable and unusual. Objectively, I know it's not me. On a gut level, though, that's not totally getting through - and I really, really want to get back to a place where I have some confidence in my own judgement and my own perception of the world. People out there who've managed to achieve that post-massive-mindfuck: how did you do it?
Throwaway email: email@example.com