How do you deal with knowing that the person's friends hate you for how you've hurt them?
December 19, 2012 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Relationship fall-out: How do you deal with knowing that the person's friends hate you for how you've hurt them?

I've posted about my relationship before, but basically we both made a lot of mistakes in it. Now when I see this girl, she tells me her friends and family know about the mistakes I've made in the relationship and don't approve and don't think I loved her and hated to see her so upset all the time. She tells me that her family has even said that if she's with me, they don't want her in their lives.

Now, that can make a person feel like shit. I've only ever heard of a family saying that to someone who was destroying their lives with drugs or something and bringing everyone that tried to be there for them down with them. And I think, is that seriously how they see me? Wow.

I'm going to write out what I've done so you have a clear picture of what I'm talking about:

- I've hit her. She hit me first, but I hit her back shortly afterwards and hit her again a few weeks later when she slapped me during sex thinking I'd like it. It wasn't a reactionary thing, both times I hit her I did it because she hit me and I thought it would help me feel better.

- I was seeing someone else when I met her. I broke up with them two weeks after she and I became official, told her a few months later.

- I broke up with her constantly. Sometimes over stupid things, sometimes over serious things.

- I told her I hated her multiple times, and at one point said "fuck you, I hate you" (which was when she slapped me.)

- I was feeling suicidal at one point and poured myself a glass of antifreeze in front of her. Then I picked up a knife and put it to my wrist. I wasn't actually planning to do anything (I didn't drink the antifreeze or cut myself, just stood there), but she didn't know that and was traumatized. At the time I was seeing a psychiatrist and on medication that made me a bit loopy.

I feel like a horrible person, I replay what she's said they think of me over and over in my head. I don't go places I might run into her friends because I'd be incredibly embarrassed.

The thing of it is I know that I'm human and that people make mistakes. I know that being around certain people can make you turn ugly and it has nothing to do with you as a person. My friends are on my side and say the exact same things about her that her friends/family say about me (minus the abandoning me if I'm with her part.) I didn't include my side of the incidents above to keep this from being too long but I know that there's two sides to every story and she's hurt me as much as I've hurt her.

None of my feel-better thinking helps. I don't know what to say to myself or what thought process I need to be having to get over this. It also doesn't help that I've seen my friends in pain over relationships and there's definitely moments where I've thought "what a horrible person to do that to someone." How do you cope with yourself knowing that you've hit someone and other people know it? She's going through the same thing - my friends know she's hit me and done other physically/emotionally-abusive things and don't approve either. She's pulled a gun on herself (they don't know that part but it ties in with what I did above.)

It doesn't help me at all to think that my friends know all of what I've done too and don't judge me at all. (they blame her) It should help but it doesn't. :( I tell myself look Autumn, some people bring out the worst in each other. Both of your friends are looking in from the outside and see the individual hurt, but they won't ever see the whole picture and even if they did they would feel the same way about you because they're closest to her. It's the same way your friends are reacting. Don't feel bad about yourself. Doesn't help!

This person has a wide network of friends and I go around thinking there's this large number of people who think I'm a horrible person.

Generally, people like me. When I've had relationships, the friends/family tend to like me and nothing as horrible as the above happened. I don't like not being liked by people for something I've done. I've never done anything like the above and I don't know how to deal with other people's reactions. The other thing that hurts is she's such a happy, bubbly person. Everyone loves her. And today she told me that being with me made her depressed and have anger problems and her friends couldn't stand to see her that way. That hurt. I told myself that I'm not solely responsible for her issues - she had them before our relationship went south and her anger/depression is part of the reason things with us went horribly.

But she blames me and I know she's suddenly saying these things because she's opened up to people and that's what they're saying. So I'm left knowing that there's a group of people that think I turned this happy-go-lucky person into a depressed angry monster. I try to tell myself my friends probably think that about her too - that I was happy, then I wasn't and it's probably her fault. Doesn't help. Argh!

I don't even feel that the issue is I haven't forgiven myself - I had forgiven myself and her for the way we acted during the relationship awhile ago. I guess she must have just started talking to her friends about us because she's bringing stuff up that happened months, sometimes years ago. Things that previously she seemed okay about. Now she's done a 180 and is blaming me for everything. I try to tell myself that's how some people move on - that she needs to feel like it was all my fault because if it wasn't then what does that say about her and what she's done? But it just. doesn't. help.

Which makes me think that her friends must think even worse of me - like it was so horrible she felt she couldn't talk to them or I was preventing her from talking to them or something (I wasn't!).

Help me - I'm good at thought-therapy and manipulating the way I think in order to feel better about something. Not this time. Tell me what I'm doing wrong. I don't want to hate myself. Thank you.
posted by Autumn to Human Relations (56 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Forgot to mention that we're lesbians. so it's not a situation where i'm a big hulky man and I hit this tiny girl who's slap couldn't have done any damage.
posted by Autumn at 3:25 PM on December 19, 2012

she tells me her friends and family know about the mistakes I've made in the relationship and don't approve and don't think I loved her and hated to see her so upset all the time. She tells me that her family has even said that if she's with me, they don't want her in their lives

TL;DR. This is actually a form of emotional abuse. It's manipulative and mean. No one deserves to be subjected to this no matter what they've done.

It sounds like you two aren't good for each other. It's OK to leave.
posted by mibo at 3:33 PM on December 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

Dude . . . you threatened to kill yourself in front of her, you've broken up with her multiple times, you've told her you hate her, you've hit each other, holy fucking shit. Of course she hasn't forgotten this stuff. Do you know why her friends don't like you? Because, from where I'm reading, she was in an abusive relationship--and you were the abuser. It doesn't matter that you're not a "big hulky man", you don't hit your partner. You thought it would help you feel better? Even if she hit you first, that is a pretty messed up train of thought.

Honestly, I don't think you should forgive yourself. This is not "forgive and forget" material. You didn't pick her up late in the airport. If you really want to get better the answer is by going into therapy, going on medication if you need it, getting help. Leave this relationship, and those other friendships behind you. Realize that if they think you're shit, it's for a damn good reason. And get help, resolve to be a better person, and never do this again in another relationship.

There are no magic words that will make it OK for you to threaten suicide in front of someone and hit them. I'm sorry.

EDIT: And this is irrespective of what she's done to you. Sounds like she's done fucked-up shit as well. That doesn't make what you did any less fucked-up. Stop talking to her, stop associating with her friends and family, go to therapy. Stat.
posted by schroedinger at 3:33 PM on December 19, 2012 [69 favorites]

Wow... it sounds like you are an abuser, and in that case, I don't think you should be asking for forgiveness. I think you need a serious reality check and therapy.
posted by two lights above the sea at 3:38 PM on December 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

I also don't think you should be forgiving yourself and moving on. You emotionally and physically abused her. Regardless of what she did to you, what brought it on, what caused it, whose fault it was, any of those things, the way you acted is never, ever OK under any circumstances. And if you were there once and all you've done is forgiven yourself and moved on I don't think you will get better. This relationship is terrible for both of you, and you should be in therapy to work through why you acted that way and to ensure you never act that way again.

Also: she is emotionally abusing you. Again, that doesn't excuse anything you've done, but it does add another reason you should get out of the relationship. And yes, she did bad things too, but she's not here asking the question, you are, so I'm not giving her advice, I'm giving you advice. Get out of this relationship and work on yourself.
posted by brainmouse at 3:39 PM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Why are you still talking to her in the first place? You two can't be friends. You are horrible for each other in or out of a relationship. Seriously, go no contact. No phone calls, no facebook, no emailing, nothing.

Also, everyone else might want to check out Autumn's previous question before you go on the whole "Autumn's a horrible abuser" route.
posted by nooneyouknow at 3:46 PM on December 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

Why are you even talking to her? You are broken up, right (assuming from the breakup tag)? Your relationship with her was a clusterfuck of everyone involved being as terrible as they could, from everything you've said here. No contact for at least a year should be automatic for the end of any relationship as overwhelmed with drama and angst as yours was.

- The way to not hate yourself is to do the work that will make you confident you will never behave like that again, step 1 of which is to be in therapy on your own.

- What you're doing now, to keep talking to this girl and keep thinking about the same things in the same way, or to spend time convincing yourself that what you did was understandable and justified at the time, seems like a great way to probably not actually fix yourself as a person, and if you keep being this abusive unstable person, you will be unable to maintain both a grasp on reality and a healthy self-esteem.
posted by jacalata at 3:48 PM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

I know that being around certain people can make you turn ugly and it has nothing to do with you as a person.

Yes, it does have something to do with you as a person. You really can't blame a person for bringing out the worst in you. That's abuser language. You are in control of you and a while relationships are hard, they aren't excuses to behave in an abusive way.

The best thing you can do is take responsibility for your mistakes. Yes, she made mistakes but they make no difference. You did some horrible things but you're not a horrible person. When friends of hers talk to you about the relationship (not sure while you're seeing these people or communicating with them) don't attempt to defend yourself or get your friends on your side. Say you're sorry for how you behaved and it was an unhealthy relationship that you contributed to, and leave it at that. Move on and work on getting yourself healthier.
posted by Fairchild at 3:57 PM on December 19, 2012 [19 favorites]

I don't like not being liked by people for something I've done. I've never done anything like the above and I don't know how to deal with other people's reactions.

So, yeah, you should feel bad. The people you like don't like you. That always sucks. Also, you did you fucked up stuff. You should feel bad for doing that too.

But really what it boils down to is that no one is guaranteed forgiveness or having people like them. You did fucked up stuff and now people don't like you because of it. That's life. Some people will forgive you eventually, some won't but will give you a second chance and others will hate you until they die. You need to accept this. I don't know how you can get your head around this, but you need to.

Also, it kinda looks to me like you haven't fully owned your part in how your relationship went and the effects your actions had on her. And knowing that her friends hate you brings up your own feelings of guilt and shame. It's one thing to know intellectually that you caused someone emotional pain. It's a whole another to see the pain right in front of you. Despite what she did to you, you hurt her. Badly. Accept that and don't run from it.
posted by nooneyouknow at 4:02 PM on December 19, 2012 [14 favorites]

About the suicide threat: you seem to think the fact that you weren't actually planning to harm yourself makes it less serious, when in fact, that's far worse. That makes it seem like you were making the threat at least in part to emotionally torment her, which... yeah. I don't think you need us to tell you that's extremely abusive and worrisome.

Based on this and your previous questions about your relationship, it sounds like both of you were abusive and like neither of you has a very good sense of self-worth. It's good that you have stepped away from the relationship so that both of you can have a chance to work on these problems.

I think you might be helped by the concept of Radical Acceptance, which is an idea one learns in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. The name is a little misleading; it's not about simply saying "X happened, guess I just have to be okay with it", it's more about having a deep understanding of the fact that your current situation has arisen from everything that happened before it, which includes your own actions and choices.

It sounds like your current thinking is along the lines of "I can't deal with the fact that Girlfriend's family and friends think so poorly of me now. It's painful to think that a whole group of people has a negative opinion of me when they haven't heard my side of the story."
After working on Radical Acceptance, that thought would hopefully turn into something more like: "Given what Girlfriend's social circle has heard about my behavior, it makes sense that their opinion of me has been tarnished. Even though they haven't heard the whole story, much of what Girlfriend told them about my behavior is true, and it is their right to decide how they feel about me based on the information that they have. At this point, I have no control over what they think of me, I can only control my own actions."

This workbook has some more good information, and some exercises/"mantras" that you may find helpful.
posted by arianell at 4:03 PM on December 19, 2012 [13 favorites]

Response by poster: Fairchild: I said that about us bringing out the worst in each other because that's what she's been telling me for a few weeks now. I didn't consider it abuser language at all. Is that really true? It gives me a lot to think about...
posted by Autumn at 4:03 PM on December 19, 2012

Autumn, please just cut out all contact with her. Your questions clearly demonstrate to the rest of us that you two are a bad fit. You are bad for each other. The whole situation is bad. Work on yourself for a while, and then work on finding someone who will not manipulate you.
posted by crankylex at 4:09 PM on December 19, 2012 [11 favorites]

Wow. There are some horrible comments in this thread.

Here's the deal. You're forced to face a fact that most people don't have to face - and this is because you've done some glaringly fucked up shit. Sometimes strangers are going to want to pile on you. And sometimes abuse victims need to grieve publicly. And there's really no escaping this. And that's going to be ok. The fact is this. In this life, not everybody's going to like you. Think about it. Got it? And sometimes, for good reason.

So calm down and stop seeking approval. Let it sink in that there really is no "opinion" about what happened. No point in really getting defensive, getting suicidal, etc. I would be humbled by this experience and make an effort to really look at your part, and ignore the distractions. The distractions are: her part. Her immediate family's reaction to what has transpired. Your thoughts of what your friends think of you. It's basically time to grow up.

Because the truth is, if you don't, this behavior is so going to follow you. People don't bring out the worst in other people. What's in you is already there. This is not her fault. At all. Attributing your actions to other people, or describing them as "heat of the moment" impulses - well congratulations, that doesn't fly when you smack somebody. This is inexcusable. And the pain and suffering you are experiencing is your ego trying to defend your actions. And it's just not going to fly in this case. And I'm sorry about that. But you're better off if you accept the consequences of your actions and humbly move on. Don't try to make up for anything directly. If these people give you the impression they want to be left alone, then leave them alone.

If you are a young person, and I assume you are, I suggest you look at therapy and discuss codependency with your therapist. Because the flailing arguments and the cycle of sex and violence is a difficult one to break, and has nothing to do with real love. If these episodes have a drug or alcohol component, I strongly suggest treatment or abstinence for a while.

Sometimes when we are younger we end up involving ourselves in (and creating) situations that are complex and fucked up and not fully apparent to us. And sometimes some of us hurt loved ones. And our impulse is to blame others. I urge you to take the high road on this. Trust me that accepting as much responsibility for this situation as you possibly can will make you a better person in the long run. Otherwise you are the abuser masquerading as the victim.

And don't let other people tell you why you are wrong about this. This goes beyond managing relationships and seeking approval, all things we truly desire. Instead, search your heart for the answer. What people think of you is always going to be secondary to your relationship with yourself. People come and go in your life. Maybe down the road these people will talk to you again. But for now respect their privacy. Treat them with dignity and understanding. Life is long and can be beautiful. So find peace with yourself, and move forward humbly and with esteemable direction.
posted by phaedon at 4:14 PM on December 19, 2012 [22 favorites]

You seem to be a lot more concerned with what other people think of you after learning of your behavior than with either the behavior itself or the damage it caused. That may be why you're having trouble getting over it. You're stressing over the image rather than over the substance.

I know that being around certain people can make you turn ugly and it has nothing to do with you as a person.

That is a dangerous rationalization. Nobody can make you turn ugly. You cannot blame other people for your choices.
posted by headnsouth at 4:14 PM on December 19, 2012 [13 favorites]

I feel like a horrible person, I replay what she's said they think of me over and over in my head.

Why are you so focused on what OTHERS think about you and not what you should be thinking about you which is basically, "WHOA! That was totally fucked up on my part and Jesus, I need to think about why it is I did those things so I can stop from ever doing them again"? It sounds to me like you're beating yourself up (deservedly) because of what others are saying about you but not because you've actually really considered your actions.

It doesn't help me at all to think that my friends know all of what I've done too and don't judge me at all. (they blame her) It should help but it doesn't.

Whoa, what kind of friends do you have that they don't hold you to task for your shit? And why should having friends like that make anyone feel better?

Look, get thee away from this woman. Never make another excuse for your behavior, EVER, on either end because it sounds like both ends are utterly screwed. And then stick with the therapy and meds, HARD. You're nowhere near recovering from this if you're still making excuses for the why and keeping this person in your life ensures that you stay in this cycle and it's likely this behavior on your part will continue with your next partner and the next and the next.

Good luck to you.
posted by youandiandaflame at 4:15 PM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

You don't need help dealing with how these people feel about you. You need help acknowledging that this is a bad relationship and is not working. This is not so much "she did this, I did this" or "why don't her friends like me?" anymore as it is

today she told me that being with me made her depressed and have anger problems

some people bring out the worst in each other

and a whole host of other RED FLAGS.
posted by sm1tten at 4:16 PM on December 19, 2012

Saying "x brings out the worst in me" implies that what you did was somehow the other person's fault, that the other person made you behave badly. I'm sorry, but you should have been told as a toddler that nobody makes you do something wrong, you control yourself. Saying this is denying your own responsibility.

Even if it were true, that she was like alcohol or some particular trigger that made you suddenly become an asshole idiot: you know what that would mean? It is entirely your responsibility to get away from that trigger as soon as possible, and then to condition yourself out of having that reaction. Every second you spent around her was your fault, for choosing to put yourself in a situation that you behaved badly in. You will come across someone else with her behaviour patterns eventually - are you just going to accept that yea, some day you'll probably threaten suicide and hit your girlfriend again when she behaves in a way you react badly to? Or are you going to make yourself the kind of person who doesn't have that reaction to anything?
posted by jacalata at 4:18 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I wanted to interject to say that I said what I did about us bringing out the worst in each other and our behavior being a result of us being together because that's what she tells me whenever she sees me. I'm sitting here shocked because it never occurred to me that feeling that way isn't okay. I didn't believe that at first and I'd say exactly what someone said above... that it was just in us. That I didn't force her to act that way and she didn't force me to act that way either.

But eventually I did believe it and then I said it here as my own thoughts and feelings. Until I posted here it didn't occur to me for one second that feeling that way isn't really owning up to my part in things. I thought it was OK to feel that way because that's how she feels and it just seemed normal.

I know what I did was abusive, yeah. Actually, it was the last thread I posted on this that really helped me forgive myself about what I've done. I feel incredibly ashamed about my actions and how I've hurt her.
posted by Autumn at 4:26 PM on December 19, 2012

I grew up with parents locked in a cycle of abuse and so I can see how sometimes, it's a confluence of two people that's dysfunctional and not necessarily either person as an individual. That doesn't really matter, though. you need to get far, far away from this girl, for both of your sakes. Please get yourself into therapy (and maybe anger management) so you can figure out healthier ways to navigate relationships in the future.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:27 PM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm confused about your current relationship with her -- are you no longer dating? If not, why are you seeing each other regularly, and why are you speaking to each other when you see each other? Can you completely cut off contact? That will help with things, but yeah, work on yourself.
posted by brainmouse at 4:28 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

In your follow-ups you are returning to putting the blame on her. "Guys, I would think what you guys think except she told me to think a different way!" You are still not owning up to your own actions and beliefs. You also say you've forgiven yourself, but in your question you say you're having trouble forgiving yourself? Why have you forgiven yourself? Because she did bad things too? Or because you've fundamentally improved as a person and have sought therapy for the damaging behaviors you engaged in?
posted by schroedinger at 4:30 PM on December 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

Stop seeing her. Stop speaking to her.

Stop seeing her. Stop speaking to her.

Don't interact with her. Block her on Facebook. Block her on tumblr, Twitter, and any other social media account you have. Lose her phone number. Get a new phone if you have to. Change your email. If she's at a social event you're going to, turn around and leave. Go home and watch a movie instead. If she comes into a restaurant while you're there, get your food packed in a to-go bag and go home. When she enters a room, you leave it.

Stop seeing her. Stop speaking to her. Don't interact with her.

Like another poster said: Autumn, please just cut out all contact with her. Your questions clearly demonstrate to the rest of us that you two are a bad fit. You are bad for each other. The whole situation is bad. Work on yourself for a while, and then work on finding someone who will not manipulate you.

That is what you do. That is how you deal with this. That is how you move on.

Stop seeing her. Stop speaking to her. Don't interact with her.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:33 PM on December 19, 2012 [18 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm not trying to avoid responsibility with my updates... it's just disturbing to me that thinking that way isn't OK and that I hadn't realized it. I did let myself believe that that's a totally okay way to think and there wasn't anything wrong with it and went from questioning that thought process to accepting it as fact, just a thing of life. Without at all realizing the implications of that thought process on my future relationships and even as myself as a person. If I hadn't posted here, I'd have gone on to future relationships with that thought process being a part of me. I mentioned that I used to argue vehemently against that thought process because it's eye-opening. It's disturbing that that's now my own thoughts, my own feelings, how not OK that thought process is and how I didn't even realize it.

I didn't realize when someone else said it to me that it was wrong and that's disturbing too because it says a lot about my perception of myself and what is and isn't OK. It hurts me when she says that, and I was going to go on living my life that way and probably hurt someone else in the process. And that wouldn't have been her fault, it would have been mine.
posted by Autumn at 4:45 PM on December 19, 2012

You need the following two things as soon as possible: some form of therapy, so you can work on treating yourself and others with love, care, and respect; and to not be in contact with your ex.

(Your ex needs these two things, too, but that's not your responsibility.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:48 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I feel incredibly ashamed about my actions and how I've hurt her.

Is this your way of publicly acknowledging your shame? To have people here, as well as her family and friends point out to you that what you did was wrong and that you are fully responsible for your actions? If so, here goes: what you did was wrong, and you are responsible for your actions.

But you can't change the past so now you must strive to be the kind of person who'd never ever do that again no matter what. Put all that behind you, including any and all interaction with her and her fam/friends. That's the only thing you can do: become a better person. Find someone else who is great with that better person that you have become. Carry on.
Start right now, go.
posted by Neekee at 4:49 PM on December 19, 2012

Response by poster: Another reason it affects me is that I believed I made her do the things she did too. And to have many people say that's not true, that's a fucked up way of thinking? I cried. I know a lot of people want me to continue to feel like shit but to feel like it wasn't my fault that she did the things she did... I've been holding onto that feeling for so long as if it was just fact and it's just... can't even describe how it feels to even think that it could possibly be true that I didn't make her act that way.
posted by Autumn at 4:50 PM on December 19, 2012

I know what I did was abusive, yeah. Actually, it was the last thread I posted on this that really helped me forgive myself about what I've done. I feel incredibly ashamed about my actions and how I've hurt her.

This is great, and I'm sure it's not easy to recognize and admit this about yourself. But shame isn't going to help you, it's going to keep eating at you and not help you avoid doing the same thing in future relationships. This is where therapy can be really helpful.

I'm good at thought-therapy and manipulating the way I think in order to feel better about something. Not this time. Tell me what I'm doing wrong. I don't want to hate myself. Thank you.

We all think we're really good at thought-therapy, but usually we're not nearly as good at it as we think we are. Enlist an expert this time, you and your future partners are worth the expense and effort. Go in and say honestly "I'm doing x, y, and z in relationships and behaving horribly as a result. Help!" And in therapy you will learn how to recognize and be attracted to healthy people instead of unhealthy people; how to recognize your own anger-triggers and respond in a more healthy way to them; how to set boundaries and stick to them so you don't get enmeshed in relationships like this again. And more.

And then someday if you run into this person again (but don't go seeking her out) you can say, honestly, "I behaved horribly and I'm sorry and I hope you are well ... and I have worked hard ever since to never behave that way again."
posted by headnsouth at 4:50 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Autumn, please ease off on the threadsitting, thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:53 PM on December 19, 2012

There will be a day where you will no longer feel ashamed about these events. That day isn't today and that day isn't tomorrow. That day will come after going to therapy, after quitting all triggers that led to these events: no contact with ex, learning impulse and emotional control through therapy like CBT, and getting help to quit any drugs/alcohol that led to the behaviors you describe.

After some time passes and you do all of that hard work above, you will have a day where something makes your blood boil and, instead of losing control, you will do the respectful thing. That day is the day where this shame will subside. I wish you lots of luck and tenacity in finding that sense of peace and I think you will find that all the work will be worthwhile.
posted by Skwirl at 5:07 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are responsible for your actions. She is responsible for her actions.

Your belief that the two of you "made" each other do bad things is a distorted perception. You can fix that.

Let me recommend the book Facing Codependence by Mellody, Miller, and Miller as something that might help you understand how you got so far off track in your understanding of boundaries.

You didn't "make" her do anything. She didn't "make" you do anything. You both did inappropriate and abusive things, from what you report. It sounds like the two of you were really toxic for each other.

All you can do, short of building a time machine, is to express remorse, make amends, and figure out how to do better in future. Best of luck to you. You will be in my thoughts.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:14 PM on December 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

And agree with everyone who says that therapy can really help you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:15 PM on December 19, 2012

So, to the friends issue. Here is the deal with me and, I suspect, with a lot of people. If you're my friend, I'm on your side. Like when my good friend broke up with his girlfriend--who I'd become pretty friendly with--my first response was "What do you want me to do? I will totally cut her off if you want." Because when you're my friend, I take your side. It's a loyalty thing. And you can't logic or reason or apologize your way out of it, because you messed with my friend (even if you two were in it together or I know there's two sides of the story or whatever).

I think that's something you're just going to have to make peace with, however you go about making peace with things.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:05 PM on December 19, 2012

When I was with my first long-term boyfriend, I did some horrible things. After we split up, I managed to lose both the group of friends that I had brought into the relationship as well as the friends who I had made while we were together. It sucked. I saw these people everywhere and they ignored me, I didn't have friends, I was lonely. But then, it got better. I made new friends. He and I got to an okay place. Since I had my own friends again, I cared less about what the former friends thought and over time, I think even the former friends got over it. It was funny a few years later when I was being recognized at a church thing and I saw my ex's mom in the church. We kind of nodded in each others' directions and moved on.

Yes to therapy. Yes, it's weird that you're more concerned with what other people think about you than what you think about yourself. But I don't think you need to forgive yourself so much as shelve that BS and moving towards a more positive place generally. Mentally, put the bad memories, thoughts, and feelings in a box and put the box on a shelf. You can even do this literally by writing the things down on slips of paper, then putting them in an envelope. Do the work of therapy, doing things that make you feel proud of yourself and getting out of this relationship. Then, in a few months, maybe take a look at what's in the box. You're not forgiving and forgetting, you're tabling it for now.

And get *away* from this girl. You need to not talk to each other for like, six months at least. Learn about what a healthy relationship looks like for next time. Hint - there aren't multiple break-ups, suicide attempts or threats, and saying "I hate you."

As for how to deal when you think about things your friends have experienced in relationships and comparing them to things you did in your relationship, just recognize that you're getting one side of the story.
posted by kat518 at 8:17 PM on December 19, 2012

Therapy. Anger management. All the rest can be dealt with as you make progress in therapy.
posted by theora55 at 8:21 PM on December 19, 2012

Best answer: Here's the thing, this relationship was fucked up. I've read your previous questions that you've posted on the green and it's clearly been an unhealthy relationship. You both took turns hurting each other (both physically and emotionally) and generally, when you've caused harm AND have a conscience then you're going to feel shame, regret, and a whole bunch of other overwhelming feelings.

So based on what you've shared on the green, it's also clear that you need therapy...weekly therapy, that is. I mean, with all respect but nobody in a healthy state of mind would attempt to drink anti-freeze, pick up a knife, and put it to their wrist. It DOES NOT matter if you you were or were not planning to do anything with it. Well-functioning, mentally healthy people do not do this. You harmed yourself and others so that''s why you're ashamed.

Having felt shame for other things in my life, I know how incredibly shitty this feeling is. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to that part, the part where you constantly feel like your shoulders are tense, there is a pit at the bottom of your stomach. So, what do you do about it?

Well, you cut this person out of your life completely. I'd also consider moving because it seems like it would be a healthy move for you in order to distance yourself further, do some more introspection, and avoid the triggers that are probably more prevalent since you live in the same city.

Another thing you need to do is seek therapy. Work on truly admitting your actions with a therapist. Together, you can understand your state of mind during this relationship. Then, hopefully after admitting and forgiving yourself you can work towards becoming a better version of yourself. Read books by shame researcher Brene Brown (she was recommended on the green, actually).

The reality is that this relationship will not be forgotten. But, hopefully one day you can look back on this as a powerful and very important lesson learned. Hopefully, you can also learn to treat yourself and others with compassion. Love yourself so that you can love others healthfully.

posted by livinglearning at 8:26 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I do want to say that I know how hard it can be not to run into exes and exes' exes and the exes of exes' exes in the lady-loving lady community, and how much social pressure there is to be a constant kumbaya puppy pile.

Keeping your distance is probably really worth the hard work it will take for a few months, though.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:28 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

You need to stop confiding all your relationship troubles to all your friends. It is one thing to confide in a couple of close confidentes but when you invite multiple people to sit in judgement of your partner and validate your beliefs by giving them biased information it becomes very unhealthy and disrespectful for both you and your relationship. All your friends that were telling you "she's the crazy one - you should totally leave her" were ALSO telling you "you are stupid to stay with someone we have repeatedly told you is crazy - she is stuck being crazy but you are choosing this drama despite elightened me telling you how to live your life".

If you don't feel you can share with an emotionally stable and healthy friend then confide your relationship angst to a professional.
posted by saucysault at 8:50 PM on December 19, 2012

Okay, I'm going to add to this pile-on. You might not like it, but I think this is the medicine you need to take.

When you say things like "We brought out the worst in each other" and "Everyone makes mistakes" and "I wasn't perfect but she made me do it"... you are AVOIDING RESPONSIBILITY.

You ABUSED her. It doesn't matter if she was the worst girlfriend in the history of the world. It doesn't matter if she drank two glasses of antifreeze. You did not have to engage with her. You could have walked away. Because you did those things to her, YOU WERE AN ABUSER, regardless of what she did. You really, deeply, truly need to accept that fact. You need to look into the abyss. You will see yourself in there. It will hurt, and it should hurt. It hurts because you did something wrong.

Now, with all that said. Life goes on. You will have other lovers and other friends. You will, we hope, learn from this and treat them better. But the only way to get there is to go through a process of realizing what you did and learning how to do better.

Everyone here is suggesting therapy because that is one common mechanism for looking at these kinds of facts with a knowledgeable person who can give you some perspective. I hope you do that too. But either way, you need to take a long quiet walk and think about this to yourself. You did this. It was wrong and that is why you are suffering. Learning from it will end this particular suffering.

We are all cheering for you to get better.
posted by 3491again at 8:55 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Help me - I'm good at thought-therapy and manipulating the way I think in order to feel better about something. Not this time.

I'll tell you my go-to for coming to terms with mistakes I make and moving on: I need to find the lesson or lesson(s) learned, and really internalize that so that I can move forward pretty much assured I'm not going to make that exact same mistake again (and in aggregate, all my lessons learned really help to avoid a bunch of different mistakes, so this method also turns out to be prophylactic to a significant degree).

I do this with small things and big things. Did I do something really stupid? aaaaarrrrrgh! How could I? What an idiot! (and, sometimes, gah, how embarrassing!), BUT, being able to spot what I could and should have done differently to avoid that mistake is gold, because it means the next time I'm not going to do that thing that way. Essentially, I've gained a microskill.

This works a lot better for me than just thinking "well, everyone makes mistakes," or "other people make mistakes, too," or "I didn't know about X, so I couldn't help it," or "I wouldn't have made that mistake if [other person] didn't do what they did."

So, this is what I do when I want to if I want to get out in front, put it behind me, file it, move on, be a better or smarter person, and not continue to beat myself up over the original mistake.

However, there are some things I do that are mistakes that I choose to make. I indulge myself in error. For me, most of these are bad things that happen because I procrastinated doing something I should have done. I know how to fix these mistakes; I feel better every time I do manage to handle them like a grownup... yet, I continue to usually choose the error. I do dumb things on purpose. Not a lot, but some, and I know better.

So, in this situation, I'd ask you if you feel like the mistakes you made are something that you want to learn from and avoid, or if they are actions you know are harmful, but you consistently choose anyway? If it's the former, work it all out in your head and your heart and on paper, and maybe with the help of some good books about these issues, and perhaps a wise friend who can help to untangle how things became what they did, and really learn the necessary lessons, and be okay with that. You can genuinely and simply apologize to your ex (not explain, not justify, not accuse, not rake it all back up for further painful conversations, and don't elaborate – just apologize from the heart, sweet and brief), and go forward calm and determined not to repeat the elements of this painful scene.

But if some part of you is choosing those mistakes, you will need good, experienced help, and that help is therapy. If the mistakes are byproducts of other problems (drugs, alcohol), then you need help solving that problem, just like every other human, and that's your first step... because no amount of processing on your part when sober will guarantee you don't make the same mistakes under the influence.

In either case, deciding to turn what happened into the catalyst for something positive and valuable as an improvement of your future life (and those who share it) is the best way to come to terms with making all kinds of mistakes. Don't be afraid to get help from the people who know how to help, if you need to.
posted by taz at 1:15 AM on December 20, 2012 [7 favorites]

About the friends-and-family thing? Just ignore that. It's a bad way of communicating. It's straight out of middle school. People should just say what they mean and stand behind it on their own.

I mean, for example, take "all my friends think you're making me depressed."

First, "you're making me depressed" is blaming, rather than taking responsibility. Second, does she agree with her friends or not? You're not dating her friends. Be clear about her own opinion. Third, what's with ganging up? She needs her whole posse with her just to hypothesize one cause-effect relationship?

Do you go to the restaurant and tell the host "my mom pointed out that I really tend to prefer the non-smoking section?" If someone steps on your foot, do you say "you know, all my friends think you've really been causing great pain to my toe?" No. You just say "non-smoking please" or "ouch, you're on my toe!"

Similarly, she should use their input to formulate her own position and ask for it: "since I've been in this relationship, my mood has really been down. I think we should take some time out. I need some space for my own mental health."

But she may not suddenly do that (and don't tell her I said she ought to!). But you don't have to care what her imaginary posse thinks. You have friends who have your back, too. And you're the one whose opinion matters most. Get a therapist and spend some time with them thinking all of this through.
posted by salvia at 1:21 AM on December 20, 2012

I don't understand why everyone is piling on the OP. Yes, she was abusive, but SO WAS HER EX. I don't see why it's "you're a physical and emotional abuser" full stop. Seriously, what the fuck?

The way I see it, you were both physically and mentally abusive to one another. I don't understand why you're "thinking" about therapy. You need it. So make an appointment and go.

(Your ex does too, but you can't control her actions, only your own. So go.)
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 2:33 AM on December 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Fairchild: I said that about us bringing out the worst in each other because that's what she's been telling me for a few weeks now. I didn't consider it abuser language at all. Is that really true? It gives me a lot to think about...

Hi Autumn, I'm not an expert. All I know is that it sounds like blaming language. When a person says, She brought out the worst in me. Or, we bring out the worst in one another (especially when hitting and physical abuse is involved) sounds like you are blaming the victim and making excuses for your behavior.

I think a lot of us can be guilty of blaming and making excuses to varying degrees. In my more immature years I would (inwardly) blame my partner. If he weren't so lazy, I wouldn't be lazy.

I know that if anger, and rage, isn't addressed it can destroy a person and a family. I am a parent who is against spanking, against physical punishment of any kind, but am guilty of grabbing my kid's ear, forcefully grabbing his arm, pushing. It's abuse plain and simple. It's something that I sought help for. Therapy. Weekly at first for months, then biweekly, then monthly, then discharged. I am better for it. My family is better for it.

Please know that you are not a horrible person. We are all guilty of making mistakes. A lot of us have behaved horribly at times. These aren't excuses to continue behaving horribly. I think you can take this as a learning experience. For now on, seek peace and kindness and behave responsibly.
posted by Fairchild at 5:49 AM on December 20, 2012

Wow, I can't disagree more with some of the people here. Hitting someone...IF THEY HIT YOU not abuse. It's self-defense.

A huge, huge abuser thing is to make themselves out to be the victim of abuse because the person they're with dares to defend themselves, or becomes unstable due to the continued abuse they're suffering.

Whatever. Either way, the way to solve this person's continued abusive behavior towards you (or, if you must, your allegedly mutually abusive behavior) is to cut off contact with each other.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:51 AM on December 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

I was coming in here to ask why you're still speaking to her at all. But then I re-read your question and noticed that you don't say that you're broken up, and you don't refer to her as your ex. So, are you still dating this person? Because, if so, you should really stop. This is a terrible relationship, regardless of who's at fault. If you're not currently dating her, you should immediately stop speaking to her. You shouldn't worry about what her friends think because you shouldn't know what her friends think. There is no reason in the world to keep this person in your life.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:53 AM on December 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

1. Break up. NOW. This relationship is unhealthy in the extreme for both of you.

2. Go to therapy. Hitting and threatening suicide and yelling and screaming are all abusive. Sure, someone can start something, but resorting to these tactics is still abusive. You need better coping mechanisms.

3. Break up. I'm reiterating because I think you may be waivering.

This is an awful relationship and you're neither one of you very happy in it. Just loving someone isn't enough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:55 AM on December 20, 2012

Break up and drop contact with her and family. You won't need to care if they disapprove if you aren't in a relationship with her still. At the very least you bring out the worst in each other. If I were her family I'd probably try to pressure and nag my loved one into making positive changes in their life too. Even if she's the instigator in the crazy in your relationship, this is not doing you any favours.

Slapping and hitting, outside consensual BDSM, is wrong.
posted by Phalene at 8:19 AM on December 20, 2012

Best answer: I'd also recommend the book The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing by Beverly Engel. I know the relationship is over (or at least, I think so from your language) but it will still help you gain clarity on your relationship, see where you both went wrong, and what not to do in the future, and what not to put up with in the future.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 8:59 AM on December 20, 2012

There is nothing more traumatizing than having a loved one threaten to kill themselves in front of you. I lived my entire childhood like that.

I think you need some time with yourself to learn.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:38 PM on December 20, 2012

Best answer: Since you mentioned that you are good at thought-therapy, you might want to explore Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and quite possibly Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT, per the workbook recommended up-thread). There are books and workbooks and online readings you can look into on your own, but working with a trained specialist in those fields might make the process more effective.

The good news is, coping mechanisms and more stable behaviors can be learned. You don't have to continue to live in turmoil, or participate in tumultuous relationships. You just need a little help learning how to get from here to there. It can be done; you can do it.

I think too that distinguishing between healthy remorse vs. unhealthy shame might help get you through this immediate rough patch. We've all done regrettable things, but that doesn't mean we are bad through and through. Some of the responses here are edging rather close to shame-mongering for my taste; be mindful that you have agency in choosing which ones to take to heart.
posted by nacho fries at 1:01 PM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

At the very least, you two are very toxic together, and toxic to each other. Break up, if you haven't already, cut ties, and don't see or speak to each other again.
posted by sarcasticah at 5:22 PM on December 20, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your commentary - good and bad! When I posted this I assumed our behavior was a result of circumstances and not something within ourselves. I have an appointment with a therapist today and an appointment with a psychiatrist in February (ugh.)

I grew up in an emotionally abusive household and every single long-term relationship I've had has had emotional abuse coming from both sides. This is the first one where physical abuse has taken place. You read stories about people who grew up in abusive households tend to go on to abuse others. I always thought, "Yeah, not me, I've beaten it!" but now I realize I haven't.

So I'm going to go to therapy, and I'm going to talk to her about the things I've mentioned here and I'm going to get back on meds and hopefully get to a point in the future where hitting someone, saying those things to them will not even cross my mind no matter what they do to me. I'm guessing a healthy person both a) would not have thought about doing the things I did in the first place and b) would not have thought anything other than exiting the relationship was acceptable.

It is nice no longer feel like being with me is what caused her to have anger/depression problems, though. I was crying every morning and every night and laying in bed for hours thinking of that and yesterday was the first day I didn't do that. Today... meh, but it's a process.
posted by Autumn at 7:58 AM on December 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

In that case, really seek out a therapist who has significant experience in healing abuse and trauma. There's a wide range of skills and knowledge out there.
posted by salvia at 11:08 AM on December 21, 2012

I'm not sure that talking to her is a necessary part of this plan, or even advisable.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:46 AM on December 21, 2012

So I'm going to go to therapy, and I'm going to talk to her about the things I've mentioned here

Assuming "her" is your new therapist? Because if "her" is your ex then don't do that.
posted by headnsouth at 11:55 AM on December 21, 2012

Response by poster: Her being my therapist, yeah.
posted by Autumn at 1:21 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh my goodness, I'm sorry, I misread that badly! Thanks for clarifying.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:07 PM on December 21, 2012

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