I ended a six-year relationship last December. I know I was totally justified. It's been seven months; when will I stop being worried sick about her?
posted by scaryblackdeath to human relations (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I moved across the west coast to be with my now-ex girlfriend. We were both 30 and had only carried on the long-distance thing for a few months before we decided to move in together. The context of what was wrong with the relationship will probably make her sound much worse than she actually is as a person...but we all break up for reasons, right?
There was immediate financial dependency on her part, which I thought was temporary. She wanted to start her own business (artistic stuff). I told her she had to have a job; she reluctantly acquiesced, but was never consistent about helping with bills and even irritable about doing it at all. As a substitute teacher, I'm plainly not well-off -- and I certainly can't call myself greedy when I went into a crap-paying profession in the first place. Yet I always felt guilty about wanting her to hold up her end of things.
Eventually, that first job ended through no fault of her own. She focused on her business for about a year or two with no other income after that with my encouragement, because I could hold things up at that time on my own. When the time came that I couldn't do that anymore (partly because she kept needing me to help her with business expenses on top of our living expenses), I told her she needed a job again to at least fund her own activity. She swung a corporate job that paid even better than I could make if I had a regular contract teaching job...and then sort-of helped with bills for awhile.
Our living situation changed. We moved into a house with a housemate and she started paying an equal share of the rent, which made me feel a lot better...but the utilities came down on me alone, and they were awful in the winter. And then that corporate job disappeared with the downturn in 2008, once again through no fault of her own.
Then there was the open relationship aspect, which was her idea. That started up about a year & a half after we got together. It was how she had always been before me. At first I was horrified (I had repeatedly been dumped for other guys), but after awhile, I just decided that I didn't really care. I was sure she wasn't going to leave me for anyone else, and I was right...but it didn't help that the stable, married guy she started seeing (yes, his wife knew) gradually turned paranoid, controlling and emotionally abusive. He was doing genuinely stalkerish shit at the end, and when they finally broke up he launched several revenge schemes.
I eventually started seeing someone else, too, who never once made any move to get me to break up with my now-ex. We're still together and everything is wonderful. (FWIW, she knows how I fret over the ex, and she says that given how we were together for six years, it's natural that it will take a long time to un-learn all these habitual behaviors.)
Anyway. The ex absolutely loved me. I have no doubt about that. She wanted to be with me forever. Never lied to me about anything -- she's one of the most fundamentally honest people I've ever met. Big heart for underdogs. Incredible work ethic, be it for an employer or for her own business; she just adamantly doesn't want to be a wageslave, which I can appreciate. Bright, energetic, creative, lights up the room when she's happy...but it's gut-wrenching to see her cry and it's hard to be around her when she's mad, and she was mad a lot, even though it was almost never anger toward me.
She was absolutely crushed when I broke up with her. I really, sincerely wish I could surgically remove that day and the following weeks from my memory. I stayed in the house for three & a half months to help her make the transition to getting new housemates. (She really needs the space for her business...but while the business does make money, it's just plain not enough or steady enough to support her year-round.)
My problem now is that I keep worrying about her finances and her well-being. She has worked very, very hard to hang on to what she has, but matters have become steadily worse for her. I can't just cut her out of my life. We had three cats and I am absolutely still responsible for them, I still go see them and I still love them (and anyone who thinks that's crazy can kiss my ass). Further, our social circles & activities overlap many times over.
I really want to get to a point where we can be good friends. It means a lot to both of us. We're still emotionally close, but I keep actual contact with her down to once or twice a week at the most (sometimes less than that). But when I see her hit lows, I want to go rescue her and yet I absolutely KNOW that I can't keep saving her, both because it's not right to me and because I just plain don't have the resources anyway.
I'm not in love with her anymore. I knew that was over, and I knew that was why I had to end the relationship. But I still love her like family and I can't tell if that's crazy or if it's not. I have a wonderful relationship with someone new who is supportive and independent, I pulled off a successful self-pub of an urban fantasy novel, I have wonderful friends and a job I genuinely enjoy despite the crappy pay...so why can't I get past worrying about my ex? I understand that her problems are hers, and that she would be fine if she'd suck up some unpleasant but mature, adult responsibilities. My head totally gets that; why can't I make the emotional adjustment? What do I have to do to make that happen?