How do I forgive myself?
January 15, 2011 9:39 PM   Subscribe

How do I forgive myself for making a mistake which ended a relationship that was practically over in the first place? How do I not feel sad that he's now with someone else? I feel like i wasn't worth it for him to try, but she is.

I dated this guy for two years and we broke up back in April. It was a shaky relationship, but ultimately he broke up with me after I attempted suicide. (Which had nothing to do with him and was because of feeling like I couldn't overcome my social anxiety, not having any friends etc.)

Basically, he told me it was over while I was in the psych ward, his family kicked me out and I was homeless for a short while before moving back home. We hung out/slept together/etc for a short time before I moved back but eventually said he didn't feel I felt enough remorse and didn't want me in his life because of that. He told me I should feel like a bad person for trying to kill myself and that I didn't feel sorry enough for what I did, there would be consequences for my actions, etc.

His reasoning for that was that when they asked if I tried to kill myself I said "yes" non-chalantly, but that's always how i speak when I feel threatened and I thought he would have known that after so long together but he didn't. His exact words were something along the lines of, "I realized something about you [after you said that]..."

I recently found out he's seeing someone else and it made me realize that I'm not as over it as I'd like to be. I talked to a few people about it and the main problem seems to be that I keep forgetting how poorly he treated me before the relationship ended. I basically think, 'Things were perfect and I ruined them'. Even if I remind myself they weren't, I can't go too long without feeling incredibly guilty about the emotional turmoil I must have inflicted on him by trying to commit suicide. I feel like I must have traumatized/scarred him by seeing someone so close to him dying.

I also feel hurt that everyone abandoned me, when I've since seen people threaten suicide and have all their friends/family rush to their side. I was completely alone at the time - I ended up having to call the ex for a ride from the psych ward to a hotel because I had no one else.

I've only told a few close friends what really happened because I harbor so much guilt. Even tonight, they reminded me how miserable I was with him, and I was. I couldn't sleep, spent almost every night crying, busted my butt trying to make things work and get him interested in me again... but at the same time I blame myself for that too because if we didn't have to spend so much negative time together maybe he wouldn't have lost interest. He likes his alone time, but we had to spend a lot of time together at first because I was reliant on him for school supplies etc, and I was usually in a sour mood because I knew he didn't like hanging out so often and I was afraid of pushing him away.

I also feel horrible that i hurt him so badly he never wanted to talk to me again. I've dated one guy before him and two guys since, and with the first guy I can accept we were both bad partners and the second guy just wasn't a great boyfriend. (still with the third) But with this guy, I can't get over what I did to realize we didn't work together. It probably doesn't help that he was my "first love" even though i was in a 4 yr relationship before that and I haven't felt the same way despite the numerous dates and two relationships I've been in since.

I know therapy is in order, and I do have an appointment with one coming up. AskMeFi tends to help as well and I thought I would ask here in the interim.

tl;dr How can I forgive myself for emotionally damaging my ex? It's been almost a year and I feel stuck - I'm ready to move forward.
posted by biochemist to Human Relations (31 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You are clearly suffering from some very serious problems, and my heart goes out to you. AskMeFi is a great resource, but based on your past questions, I think your situation is far too serious and intense for worthy answers from any of us. Please realize that many of us care about your troubles and hope that you get better, but *please* just go get therapy!

This may sound harsh, but I have known people in situations not entirely dissimilar to yours. What sometimes causes them to be alienated from family and (theoretical) friends is sometimes putting to much of a burden on them (non-experts) and not taking matters to those who really can help, like those in the field of mental health. I don't know if this applies to you, but I wonder why you come here - nine days after an equally intense post about equally intense problems - without having seen a therapist in the meantime. Get help, now! This is especially urgent if you feel you have no one to rely on.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:02 PM on January 15, 2011 [31 favorites]

Wow tough situation. Sounds like your relationship with him was pretty toxic so it was probably a good thing that it ended. While you might be a great person and he might be a great person, it didn't sound like you two were great together. Some relationships are just like that. There is definitely someone out there who is better for you, more supportive, will treat you better. Also, you make it sound like all of the relationship problems you had were your fault and that is rarely ever true as it takes two people to make a relationship. For now go to therapy and work on treating your self really well (something people often don't do when they are in a complicated relationship). Good luck!
posted by MsKim at 10:16 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

How can I forgive myself for emotionally damaging my ex?

I don't think he was the one that was emotionally damaged here. It seems like he callously blew you off at a difficult time.

He told me I should feel like a bad person for trying to kill myself

You shouldn't. No one should say this.
posted by wayland at 10:21 PM on January 15, 2011 [14 favorites]

I do agree with Dee Xtrovert, AskMe is probably not the right resource for you right now.

That said, you need to know this: It'll take time.

I was a lot like you 25 years ago. Suicide attempts, not coping with relationships, not on track in my life. Eventually therapy and anxiety medication matured (which I am glad for you).

I hope you will begin to learn some of these things:

Somebody else's emotions are not your fault. You feel what you feel. They feel what they feel. Neither of you is right or wrong.

The best way to move on from someone is to not have contact with them. And it takes time, it must have taken me a good 5 years to feel over my first love (who I lived with for 3 years). Now, 20 years on, there's not one spark of emotion left over him, and yet, at the time I was living with him, and breaking up with him, I did attempt suicide, I was devastated, lonely, alone, depressed, anxious - oh all kinds of mixed up.

Be gentle with yourself. Forgive yourself as you would a friend. You're doing the best you can in difficult circumstances. Make sure you get the help you need. This is most important.
posted by b33j at 10:23 PM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

What do you mean that you emotionally damaged him? It sounds like maybe you scared him, but then again, maybe he was ready to move on anyway. In what ways do you think you damaged him?
posted by jasper411 at 10:26 PM on January 15, 2011

Not sure if I have this right. Did he say that you emotionally damaged him by trying to kill yourself? It shouldn't work like that. I normally think AskMe jumps to conclusions like "manipulative asshole" and "abuse" way too soon, but it seems to fit here.

You were in a bad place. Happily, you're here and trying to move forward. And yeah, maybe you contributed to or even caused your break-up, and you'll have to come to terms with that just like anyone dealing with the end of a relationship, but in terms of you traumatizing him or some shit like that... just... no. There's nothing for which you need forgiveness in that regard.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:03 PM on January 15, 2011

You didn't maliciously attempt suicide to hurt him. You didn't ruin your relationship by attempting suicide; it was already over.

You need to take care of yourself. He needs to deal with his own emotions and anger and shame for treating you badly. He doesn't get to drop that off on you.

Therapy - which I see you've got coming up on your calendar - is essential. It will help you see the events in perspective.
posted by 26.2 at 11:25 PM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

You didn't do anything wrong here. :( This wasn't your fault, it sounds (from the very limited scope of what you've said here) that he's just using that as an excuse. Please please please don't blame yourself.
posted by nzero at 11:32 PM on January 15, 2011

How can I forgive myself for emotionally damaging my ex?

It sounds like you might be projecting this onto him. From what you have said it sounds like he never actually told you he was emotionally damaged or anything of the sort. You feel guilty because of "the emotional turmoil I must have inflicted on him ... I must have traumatized/scarred him." It sounds to me like you are assuming something that's not necessarily true at all.

He's not here so we don't know, but it sounds like the reason he ended things was that he was just over your relationship, long before the suicide attempt. And he did not want to meet your needs. There are some people who are caretakers. They feel fulfilled and happy when they are taking care of the emotional or physical needs of others. And there are other people who are the opposite of caretakers. They are unwilling/unable to provide very much emotional support or care, for whatever reason.

It sounds like this guy is just not a caretaker. That doesn't make him a bad person. It just means that whatever your needs were, he was unwilling/unable to meet them, they were too much *for him* and the idea of being responsible for meeting them made him want to bail, so he did. That also doesn't make YOU a bad person. It doesn't mean your needs were "too much" in a general sense, or "wrong" or whatever. It just means the two of you were not compatible in that way.

I also feel hurt that everyone abandoned me, when I've since seen people threaten suicide and have all their friends/family rush to their side.

In the same way, this depends on the personalities of the friends/family. Some people are just more prone to demonstrating care for others. That doesn't say anything about YOU. Sometimes one might think "well, this person doesn't display much care for me but if I *really* needed them then they would." Actually often the opposite happens, where they show even less care. If you anticipate care from someone who is already not showing much, it might be setting yourself up for some hurt.

Normally I might say that if you feel guilty that you might have hurt him, you should write him a letter and apologize. But it sounds like there's a chance he will say even more hurtful and damaging things to you, like the awful things he said about how you should feel like a bad person, etc. So it's probably best to let sleeping dogs lie there.

Dee Xtrovert:This may sound harsh, but I have known people in situations not entirely dissimilar to yours. What sometimes causes them to be alienated from family and (theoretical) friends is sometimes putting to much of a burden on them (non-experts) and not taking matters to those who really can help, like those in the field of mental health.

I think Dee Xtrovert is right about this. But I don't think it's "too much of a burden" to put on friends and family to want them to care about you, help you as much as they can, etc. It's just when someone feels that the onus is totally on them to solve a problem they don't have the skills, knowledge, or ability to help with, it can get overwhelming.

I think it's obvious to everyone here that you are not a bad person. And I also think your ex is the only one out of all of us who thinks you should see yourself as a bad person. I personally think he should see himself as acting like bad person for saying something like that. Is there any way that you can forgive *him* for saying those horribly hurtful things to you, and for not being there for you, and for bailing on you? If you can forgive him for doing those things, maybe it will be easier to forgive yourself.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:43 PM on January 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

I speak from a position of having come close to attempting suicide and dealing with major depression and self-sabotage in relationships.

How can I forgive myself for emotionally damaging my ex?

First of all, you have to stop what trial lawyers call assuming the conclusion. You need to separate what you did from what your ex did. You damaged yourself. You didn't damage him. He recoiled from your mental illness, which is something we wish people wouldn't do, but is a quite common reaction. He was protecting himself. This wasn't what you needed, but it may have been what he needed, or all he could handle.

I won't say you don't have some forgiving of him, or you, to take care of. Let me tell you right now that forgiving is not the end you seek. It may help you heal, but it will not be the magic bullet that ends your pain from this episode.

In fact, by creating this somewhat difficult, perhaps even impossible necessity of forgiveness, you have given yourself another stick to beat yourself with. I'm a bad person. I can't even forgive. You spend all your emotional energy on this, precisely because all your emotional energy when you are depressed must be spent on beating yourself up. It's sort of the way depression works.

Try something simple. Just give yourself permission to resent. Give yourself permission to be mean. Give yourself permission to be human. Let it seethe, let it wash over you, let it consume you ... for a moment. Then let it go and do something that needs to be done. You're not a bad person for having these thoughts. Most people have these thoughts, especially after a bad breakup or an emotional rollercoaster of a suicide attempt. You're human. Sometimes you're not perfect. Accept that. Work on forgiveness later. But for now, be a little selfish. Be a little bit of a jerk. Be imperfect.

I used to struggle with random daily thoughts of The One Who Got Away, frustrated that I couldn't get her out of my mind, until I had the epiphany that it was pretty natural to have those thoughts and I didn't have to let them control me. After that I would still have the thoughts, but I'd react with a sort of "Well! That's that." and move on. This was the beginning of the thoughts diminishing until they no longer bothered me.

Eventually I began to be able to see that relationship in a more nuanced light and understand that both of us did good and bad things at different points. I had put the entire responsibility on my own shoulders, but she had responsibility for her actions, not me. When I realized it took two people to make or break a relationship, I suddenly lost about 50% of the burden of its failure.
posted by dhartung at 11:48 PM on January 15, 2011 [6 favorites]

Why do you feel like you need to be forgiven? He sounds like a huge prick.

A few years ago, I was in a very similar type of situation and my ex boyfriend gave me shit because I would be staying at an outpatient facility for two weeks after being in the hospital overnight, and he didn't want to have to feed my cat. He seriously wanted me to come home each day to feed my cat because he didn't want to scoop it out for her in the kitchen.

This was after he called me while I was in the hospital and told me it was "over" because of it, and called my father (he looked him up in the phone book) to tattle on me.

It was ridiculous because if I had felt like I had any support system, I wouldn't have had to go the hospital in the first place. At the time, I felt like it just confirmed beyond a doubt that I was truly alone and couldn't trust anyone. Nowadays, I realize that he was a giant asshole and that my life improves when I don't associate with giant assholes. There was a "go-to-therapy" component to improving my life, as well.
posted by autoclavicle at 12:03 AM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

You say you're ready to move forward, and you're seeking therapy. I'd say you're already most of the way to where you want to be, and should give yourself a pat on the back, take a big deep breath and keep on keeping on. You're fine.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:24 AM on January 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Biochemist, you are young, and you're getting good advice, so let this be the thing that saves you from a lot of future misery: See a therapist, see one now. If the first one doesn't work for you, keep looking, and don't ever give up.

Here's why I'm telling you this: I have a very, very dear friend who has suffered from depression, anxiety, and dysfunctional relationships all his life; it is only now, in his late 40s that he has entered a period of stability and managed to mostly get off the emotional roller coaster, because he eventually got the therapy and meds he needed. Don't wait that long.

Let me tell you a bit of his story: He was the child of one alcoholic parent and one emotionally withholding parent and they really, really did a number on his head. The emotionally withholding parent forced him (when he was still only a child!) to "choose" between the two parents in the divorce, setting up a you're-either-with-me-or-against-me situation — choose to live with me, or I wash my hands of you. My friend felt too guilty to leave his alcoholic parent who he felt needed him, who he felt would die if he wasn't there to cook and take care of things ... like oh, you know, keeping the alcoholic parent from setting the house on fire. Remember, still only a child! So as a result, my friend was denied the love of one parent, neglected by the other parent, lived at the poverty level because the withholding parent was withholding in all ways, and felt responsible for the doomed alcoholic parent (who did indeed eventually die from alcoholism).

The upshot is that my friend was severely affected by all this, notably in these certain ways that seem to resemble your experiences, thoughts and feelings: constantly in relationships with unsuitable people (sometimes alchoholics, sometimes emotionally withholding people, sometimes both), was paralyzed by indecision, always double-guessed and agonized over any decision he made, almost always felt that he made the wrong decision; haunted by inappropriate feelings of guilt (if I had only been/done better this bad thing would not have happened); unable to let past relationships go, no matter how badly the ex treated him; unable to feel comfortable in a relationship with healthy committed and caring partners. Lots of chaotic thinking; always, always, always dwelling in the past at the expense of his present. Was always more fixated on partners after the breakup, and convinced that he was wrong to let them go ... though when he was with them, he constantly questioned if that was the right decision.

As you can see, this was a really painful and difficult way to live. He was and is a delightful, brilliant, funny, loving, and generous person — who was miserable most of the time because of these horrible issues that were forced on him by a crappy upbringing, and he never, ever deserved the pain he suffered for so long. We didn't have the benefit of the internet back then, and therapy wasn't as common as it is now, so it took a criminally long time before my friend was able to finally sort things out through meds and therapy. It doesn't mean that things are all rainbows and unicorns for him now, but now he understands those feelings and impulses, and can control them. Now he isn't haunted every moment of the day by past decisions and what-ifs, and doesn't carry a massive burden of crazy guilt over things that he was never responsible for.

Don't go as long as he did before getting help, biochemist. Of all the thoughts and doubts crowding your mind, just hold one thought steady: see the therapist. Now. See the the therapist. Stick with that.

I wish you the very best luck with this, and joy in your life. (PS: see the therapist.)
posted by taz at 1:06 AM on January 16, 2011 [9 favorites]

I'm curious.

What are you saying to yourself exactly?

Something like:

"I can't forgive myself because I hurt him sooo bad emotionally"
"I am a bad person because I hurt him"

If I said things like that to myself I would feel pretty crummy. Are those things you are saying about the situation and about yourself TRUE?

Maybe instead of saying those things you could say:

1. He treated me poorly.
2. I was going through a rough patch and he showed me very little compassion
3. Most relationships don't work out (statistically) and I have no control over how someone else treats me.
4. My value as a person comes from WHO I AM INSIDE, not from what someone else thinks of me.

About therapy. Can I recommend that you find someone that focuses on Low Self Esteem therapy? I'm guessing you had a pretty crummy childhood and someone (usually a parent) made their BAD BEHAVIOR always YOUR FAULT. So, this guy (who doesn't seem too nice) gets off scott-free while you badger yourself for the last year (just as your early environment taught you).

Good luck! We're rooting for ya!
posted by learninguntilidie at 1:28 AM on January 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

The person who was hurt by this attempt on your own life was you, not him.

I feel like it is worth repeating to yourself, that trying to kill yourself does not in any way make you a bad person. Say that out loud if you can, maybe several times. Try and make it stick.

That someone doesn't want to talk to you anymore, means just that, there is just no communication. In fact, without being in contact with him (not something I recommend in the slightest, let bygones be bygones) you can't really say how he feels. You're sure that he feels traumatized by this, but when it happened he basically told you that you were inconveniencing other people, basically that you were being selfish. That to me doesn't sound at all like someone who feels that you were nearly gone forever.

I read your previous question on endlessly thinking over situations where you feel like you have wronged other people. I think the same advice to that applies here, on letting go of things and allowing yourself to feel that you are not a bad person.

In a way, you are endlessly reliving this, over and over. That isn't your life anymore. You mention being in a new relationship. Are you happy? Because that's what really matters.
posted by everyday_naturalist at 2:14 AM on January 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you can, get ahold of a copy of this book and read the chapter on Compassion. This is one of the most helpful things I've ever read on forgiving yourself and others.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:52 AM on January 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yes, like some others, what I am getting from this is that you said (metaphorically), "OMG, my life is falling apart, I have attempted suicide and must receive in-patient treatment, this is pretty much the worst thing that's ever happened to me," and his reaction was, "Okay, but please do not forget, even for a second, that everything that happens in the entire world is ALL ABOUT ME. I am unconcerned about your suffering except insofar as I can make it about me."

That's not a guy who loves you. That's douchey to the extreme. That's so self-centered one wonders if he's even capable of loving another human being. I get the same impression reading your other posts about this relationship.

A close friend, almost a year ago now, had to admit himself to in-patient treatment after a suicide attempt. His wife's reaction was, "OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG, okay, but now I have to be strong for Husband and keep a lid on my drama and be there and available for him and help him because he needs me so much right now. This is not remotely about me and any time I need it to be about me I will lean on friends until it's time for us to talk about it together in therapy." That's the sort of reaction one expects of a loving partner. (I would also note that the next step, for both my friend and his wife, was a therapy extravaganza, separately and together, and the strongest, most loving thing you can do for yourself and for everyone in your life is to get the professional help you need so you can heal. Friends and family are great, but they aren't professionals.)

You were putting so much more into this relationship than he was. If anyone needs forgiveness, it's him, the Douchey McDoucherson who couldn't be arsed to pay any emotional attention to you throughout the relationship but made particularly sure to emotionally pull away any time you needed him. What a jerk.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:15 AM on January 16, 2011 [9 favorites]

Hey there:

I once completely melted down at the endish of a relationship. There were two things that were going on 1) He was a real bastard and 2) I was an emotional wreck. I'd actually been an emotional wreck for a long time, careening from relationship to relationship, and it was not until I committed myself to weekly therapy that I got better. Listen, I was vulnerable emotionally fragile for reasons xyz. You are emotionally fragile for reasons abc. The whys don't matter. The two things that matter are a) You get him out of your life and b) You get help. One way to get him out of your life is forgive him, you, everybody -- get out and do something physical, like running if you can, and try to get some of your inner fury out that way.

Also: Don't be ashamed. Some of our most gifted leaders and creators got in worrysome emotional places. But do get help. And memail for anything.
posted by angrycat at 7:15 AM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

As the Navy says... "The ship comes first."

Forget the boyfriend. Forget the guilt. Get control of you.

Once that's done, you'll have energy, smarts, and the ability to be a good mate.
posted by FauxScot at 7:34 AM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh sweetie. I'm so sorry you're going through this. I went through this once, too.

You do not need to forgive yourself for damaging your ex, because you didn't damage him. This man is a bullet, and you should pat yourself on the back for dodging it!

I hope that your psych ward had better follow up that mine for continued therapy. Please follow up and see a therapist asap. You will find out in therapy that YOU are not the reason the relationship broke (you already know that, right?).

Also, stop feeling ashamed and give yourself permission to feel ANGRY. This guy sort of abandoned you in your hour of need -- even it was already rocky, it's hard not to feel compassion for someone so low as to attempt suicide. Second, he said awful, terrible, untrue things about it afterwards to manipulate your or just to be a gigantic asshole. You ARE ALLOWED to be angry about this. You don't have to call him and scream, just process it and give yourself permission to take care of YOU.

Memail me if you want. Take care.
posted by motsque at 8:24 AM on January 16, 2011

How can I forgive myself for emotionally damaging my ex? It's been almost a year and I feel stuck - I'm ready to move forward.

You just tried to commit suicide and you're worried about your ex-boyfriend's feelings?

First, you don't need to forgive yourself- because you did nothing wrong. You are the one hurting intensely here, and he- your EX- still has the gall to suggest that you tend and care for his feelings of being out of his comfort zone. Instead of you know, comforting you, like any normal caring friend (let alone human being) would do for someone in distress. Why are his feelings so much more important than your own? Why is his happiness more important than yours?

This ex of yours- reading your past questions- is the biggest part of your unhappiness right now. Start by ditching him. He may be a nice guy who is just immature, but to your healthy life he might as well be poison. You are struggling and he is pushing you towards, not away from that cliff. Healthy relationships offer support and understanding. He is giving you neither. (though he may claim otherwise.)

You seem to think you need him, but I can't imagine why or how. Reading your past questions, he's been so consistently selfish and self-obsessed this whole time, and you keep trying to "compromise" where "compromise" means it's all about him, his needs, his wishes, etc. etc. him, all the time. That's not the meaning of the word. Real compromise is about both partners working together to maximizing both partner's happiness, not one at the expense of the other. You deserve better.

Instead of trying to inadvertently reaching out to someone who doesn't make you happy, who doesn't offer support or understanding- why not find someone else who will? I keep getting the feeling that you hope that if you show you care about this guy hard enough, or sacrifice enough of your life to please him, that you will somehow earn back his love and attention. I'm afraid it doesn't work that way. It's unfortunate your relationship didn't work out, but it's time to move on. There's nothing to salvage here.

I keep forgetting how poorly he treated me before the relationship ended.

Be very careful- this is not something people with healthy relationships say- it's something the emotionally abused and manipulated say. Be careful and watch yourself and make sure that you don't continue down this path now, and in future relationships.

To move on, I would suggest a good place to start would be to write down your feelings and take them to your therapist. Not what your ex claims what happened and how you keep taking that pile of blame for what went wrong, but honestly recount events from your side and how they made you feel. Make sense of it. Talk about it and get some honest perspective about what really went down from someone you trust. Reach back out to your friends and family for support and understanding. (and don't involve or depend on your ex! Break off contact!)

Take things steady, and heal. We're all rooting for you.
posted by tachikoma_robot at 9:10 AM on January 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

biochemist, I'm incredibly worried about you. You have many things going on right now, and it would be so so helpful to have a trained professional help you work through them. None of them are "your fault" and you are not a bad person. We all have issues and it is the paragon of strength to face them as you are now. So take the next step, and face them with someone who can work through them with you. After your last question, we memailed and I sent you a concrete list of nearby psychiatrists who work with your insurance, who were not at your university, as you requested. I think it is time to realize that AskMe cannot help with the underlying issues here, and that you are not getting better on your own. So - time for a new plan! That means seeing a therapist.

1. Ask a friend or counselor or RA at school to help you find a therapist. There is no shame in this. It is the epitome of strength to recognize when you need a bit of help in one area. Say, "I'm having trouble finding a therapist and a psychiatrist who is not affiliated with the university. Can you help me weed through the options?"

2. Call two of the psychiatrists on the list that I sent you. Tell them you would like to talk briefly on the phone before making a first appointment. Promise that you will make an appointment with at least one of them.

Good luck, we're all rooting for you. Please update this thread when you've done the first step above!
posted by barnone at 9:13 AM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

PS: we don't see our friends for our teeth cleaning - we go see the dentist. We don't try to fuss with electricity if we're not trained, we call an electrician. We don't ask our friends climb up on a roof to re-shingle it without training, we call a roofer!

So your friends and family are GREAT, but they are simply not trained in this area. Nor are you. It's time to set aside your fears and worries about finding help, and do it anyway.

Say this outloud: "Dear anxious brain, I know you are worried about me seeking help because it means you won't get to be the boss of me anymore. I'm sorry you feel that way, but your time to dominate me is over, and I'm now finding help."

Then do #1 and #2 steps above. Good luck, you can do it! You are already on the road!
posted by barnone at 9:17 AM on January 16, 2011 [8 favorites]

He told me I should feel like a bad person for trying to kill myself and that I didn't feel sorry enough for what I did, there would be consequences for my actions, etc.

Christ, what an asshole!

I read your other posts too, and this dude sounds selfish and cold-hearted through and through.

You, on the other hand, sound like someone who is commendably working on herself, and was also working on the relationship to the best of your ability. I'm glad you're going to seek therapy. Let me add my voice to the chorus of people who have had therapy that has helped immeasurably.

You deserve better than a guy like this. How do I know this? Because you sound like a very caring person. But honey, you need to turn that caring into care for YOURSELF. You need it. Please read the BaggageReclaim blog. It's chock-full of information on relationships with emotionally unavailable partners. You're so, so not alone in this relationship pattern.

You haven't done anything wrong. He has. He sounds like he lacks empathy and has narcissistic traits. No matter how charming he can be when things are going his way, as soon as he has to try to meet someone else's needs, he apparently morphs into a major jerk, from what you've written.

Listen to your friends and keep re-reading your posts and eventually, as your self-esteem rises, so will your anger at how this jerk has treated you. Then you will realize you're well rid of him.
posted by xenophile at 11:16 AM on January 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Honey, if he told you that you should "feel bad" for trying to kill yourself, then YOU aren't the one who "damaged him." If anything, I wonder whether HE may have had a hand in damaging YOU.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:40 AM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Props on seeking therapy!

But in the meantime, try to keep your mind busy. I glanced at some of your other questions and it seems like you might be caught in a loop of over-thinking. If you keep chewing on the same thoughts over and over again, it will only make it worse and you'll make tiny little molehills into enormous mountains. Don't get me wrong, dealing with your issues is a very good thing and you absolutely should pursue therapy. Just don't get caught in a vicious cycle thinking about things that cause you stress.

So try to keep busy, read books, listen to audio books - doesn't matter what kind, doesn't have to be anything complicated, so long as you pay attention to the story / they keep you from ruminating on past events over which you have no control.
Exercise! I may not be a fan of exercise, but boy do those endorphins work their magic. Sing a song in your head, etc etc etc
My point is: you're overly thinking about things over which you have no control and that's causing you significant anxiety, so try to do something to prevent yourself from doing so.
posted by Neekee at 4:57 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Consider that maybe worrying about having damaged your ex keeps you from worrying about yourself - which, with the help of a good therapist, is the most important thing you should be doing right now.

Consider also that when your brain produces the thought "I have damaged my ex with my behaviour" it may be trying to express the opposite feeling: "my ex has damaged me". But since the second thought may not be acceptable to you, your brain may be forced to camouflage it by switching it around.

Obviously, this is only guesswork and I do not know you, but give it a thought.

I'm glad you are getting help and I wish you all the best. Whatever you are planning, you can achieve it. You will achieve it better without this man who cannot find it in himself to support you and who makes it worse with his behaviour.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:53 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone - it really does help to read through (multiple times lol) the responses.

As far as him damaging me, yeah, I'm aware of that. I have a blog where I talk a lot about how it's affected me, but I'm probably doing it wrong because I mostly feel angry at myself for giving people who don't treat me well multiple chances (I have a history of this), which resulted in me having trust/intimacy issues from getting hurt... that I could have prevented had I only gone, "See ya!" at the first red flag.

Andyeah, I have no idea how he's feeling/felt about it emotionally. I know he was hurt at the time, but "traumatized" may have been an overstatement. I thought that he would be because it wasn't a pretty scene; vomiting/seizing/"screaming" (which was air noises or something but he didn't know that). The nurse called me a monster for not hiding (I didn't know what I was doing and thought I'd peacefully slip away in my sleep, so I didn't lock myself in the bathroom/go out to a forest/whatever, I just went to bed), so I figured that the experience must have been horrible. But ultimately, I really don't/can't know if it had a long-term affect or not.

To be honest I have trouble fathoming how he felt about things even at the time; the thing about me not feeling any remorse didn't make sense because I'm the type of person where if there's something I can feel bad about, chances are I feel horrible about it. I'm also really good at faking being non-nonchalant when I feel threatened. It's just mind boggling to me how we could be together for so long and he didn't pick up on that, especially since I told him that about myself multiple times. But I don't think he would have lied to me about his thoughts so I dunno.

For those confused about the timeline, we haven't spoken since April of '10. I found out he was dating again because I went to his Facebook, which I have a habit of doing when I'm upset about something else.

I will admit I don't have much hope for therapy because I've been to so many, but I'm going to start going again anyway because I don't want to give up. I got some really good resources from my last post and some PMs so I'll be looking into those as well. I also haven't been taking care of myself re: eating right, exercising, hygiene, hobbies etc... so I'm going to start those again a little at a time to hopefully pick myself up again.
posted by biochemist at 3:18 PM on January 18, 2011

biochemist, that nurse should be fired. I've typed and deleted a bunch of other suggestions of what should be done to him or her.

Once I was in ICU with a tube that went into my body sort of below my rib cage. I thought that it went into my lung but I am not a doctor and am probably wrong -- I didn't ask because I was so grossed out/scared by it.

Anyways, when the doctors removed it it FUCKING HURT LIKE A SON OF A BITCH and I really, truly, that they were disemboweling me and shrieked like a banshee. In the stunned silence afterwards I heard the ICU nurse saying loudly, "God! That patient is so annoying!"

I remember feeling so ashamed. That nurse was a piece of work, as the nurse who said that to you. Seriously, you should consider filing a complaint, if only to get in motion the gears in your head that tell you that you have a right to exist without fear, without shame.

Please keep trying with the therapy. I know full well what it is like to not have therapy work, and how discouraging it can be. But just keep trying.
posted by angrycat at 3:26 PM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thank God you didn't hide, and fuck that nurse. Unfortunately, plenty of nurses are assholes just like the rest of us civilians, but I can imagine that kind of statement hurting more from someone who's supposed to be caring for you and kind to you.

For what it's worth, I once had to go to the E.R. for strange unknown severe headache symptoms, and after I had been shown to one of those curtained-off sections, I passed out while I was waiting for the doctor. They actually forgot about me and left me there for several hours, and when I came to, there was a nurse bitchily ranting about me in a stage whisper, about how "people" (me) shouldn't take up E.R. beds just to "nap." So it's not just you.

I don't know if you've ever seen this comment by netbros, but you might find it worthwhile to take a look at. Here's a part of it:
Taking things personally makes you easy prey. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up.

You eat all their emotional garbage, and now it becomes your garbage. But if you don't take it personally, you are immune to this kind of hell. Immunity to the poison in this middle of hell is the gift of the Second Agreement.
posted by Ashley801 at 7:52 PM on January 18, 2011

"I mostly feel angry at myself for giving people who don't treat me well multiple chances (I have a history of this), which resulted in me having trust/intimacy issues from getting hurt... that I could have prevented had I only gone, "See ya!" at the first red flag."

And if we as human beings were good at RECOGNIZING that first red flag when it popped up, metafilter would have no human relations section and newspapers would be scrambling to fill the column inches that advice columnists currently fill up. Red flags are one of those things that are clear in retrospect, but often hard to recognize at the time. How do you know if a partner shouting at you is the first step down a long path of verbal abuse, or the first time you're seeing an occasional and harmless loss of temper resulting in a raised voice? The fact is YOU HAVE NO IDEA until a couple years down the road when the pattern becomes clear.

And, you know, plenty of us beat ourselves up over these kinds of things after the fact, but eventually you have to come to terms with the fact that you did the best you could, that by the time the red flags were flyin' you were entangled and invested, and you did the best you could with where you were. Kind of a mental FIAMO. Yep, that wasn't so great, oh well, it's in the past, hope I learned something, all I can do is deal with the next thing, blah blah blah.

"It's just mind boggling to me how we could be together for so long and he didn't pick up on that, especially since I told him that about myself multiple times."

Yeah, as noted? I think he was pretty much the most selfish man alive. Paying attention to YOU would have taken time away from his busy, busy schedule of paying attention to himself. (Also, one of my best friends was recently shocked -- shocked! -- to find out I enjoy football. I spend every Sunday watching football! And many Saturdays! I guess I just don't talk about it a lot. People can know us really well but still miss parts of us that we feel are major, major things. My husband JUST found out, after 8 years of marriage, that I save all the birth announcements and wedding invitations we get. I'm not sure what he thought the box in the closet was for all these years, or why he thought I so carefully set them aside from the mail, or ... dude, it's just weird that he never noticed, lol, 'cause I make kind-of a production out of it!)

"I went to his Facebook, which I have a habit of doing when I'm upset about something else."

Use your friend Technology to prevent you from doing that. Nothing good can come of it. That's deliberately seeking out something to make you feel worse when you're feeling bad. "Hey, I suck, let me go find evidence of my suckiness so I'll feel even worse!" No. Bad. Stop that. You don't suck, so don't deliberately do things to make yourself feel worse. you want to STOP those thoughts, not feed them. (And even if you are in a good place, trolling the internet for news of shitty exes is a bad idea. It never ends in you feeling better.)

(And I too am on the "fuck that nurse" bandwagon.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:29 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

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