Preserving the stability I've worked so hard to achieve
February 17, 2016 4:18 PM   Subscribe

After being diagnosed with bipolar II, my partner and I accidentally built my coping strategies around my total emotional reliance on him. Now that I have my career on track and have moved into what was to be "our home," I feel my stability at risk as it truly sinks in that he is exiting the relationship, but wants to remain as friends and a support system. How can I process this grief without compromising my stability?


Well against all wise advice I moved into the Loft...

...but I did make him sign a contract barring visitation, and he has no keys and no belongings here.

I tried to go No Contact for a few days but my
anxiety levels got so high I ended up in the emergency room. Luckily I was not involuntarily committed and I didn't go manic but it was enough that my psychiatrist prescribed me Xanax on top of my usual med regimen.

Now I am living here alone and it was going ok, I met a few neighbors, went out for a bite, but every single night I end up calling him crying; begging him to take me back - it is so pathetic. It is like watching a train wreck, or watching a movie it almost feels out-of-body.

Anyway, things are coming to a head as I have been so stressed lately about this and other things that I have developed bronchitis that is so bad I am on bed rest. Of course there is no television here but I have been obsessively reading forums about how to get over your ex, I've been coloring in one of those "calm coloring books," but now it is getting difficult to even talk so I can't complain to any friends and family via phone. I did get an inhaler called in today so that is helping.

Without work to distract me, I am all the more acutely aware that I am here in the Loft alone without my monk-wannabe to take care of me. He cannot help but text me everyday calling me by my old nicknames and asking how I'm doing. I have begged him to block my number but he says he will "never turn his back on me." It is hell not talking to him and it is pure hell talking to him. I am becoming more and more aware it is definitely over and he is withdrawing emotionally, but seriously - how the fuck can I hold it together?? I am not getting well bc I can't rest, bc I am in too much pain about the break up. I don't want friends to come over bc I shouldn't really talk (it inflames my system) and I don't want to get them sick.

Any advice???

How can I take his calls and not get worked up? Does this heart thing have an off switch???

PS my laptop is broken so I only have my iPhone and no tv. And no bathtub. Oh and did I mention no boyfriend.
posted by asmith30 to Human Relations (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you can't talk to your friends why are you talking to your ex?

You need to put some support in place with your psych team and go no contact. Get a roomate.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

It doesn't matter if he's worried about you, what he's doing is hella cruel. Tell him that you'll text a particular friend once a day to let her know you're ok, and if he needs to know you're ok, he can check with her. (Make sure this is all right with the friend first, obviously.)

I know it's not fair that you're the one who has to enforce boundaries when (a) you're sick and (b) you were the dumpee, but somebody has to be the grownup here, and he's made it obvious it's not going to be him.

I'm sorry. Time will help, it really will.
posted by ostro at 4:49 PM on February 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

Best answer: What your ex is doing is all kinds of fucked up. I suggest you start a private journal and try to reframe your experiences with him. I don't know what went down between the two of you or what the root cause of your nervous breakdown was, but I would set out to explore the idea that your relationship to him was the root cause of your nervous breakdown and the possibility that he is engineering another one for you.

The fact that he dumped you and then blew up your phone with texts when you went no contact is monstrously narcissistic. Everything is about him. He wants to see himself as perfect or something. Doing right by you does not even make his radar.

Start a journal and start documenting how he jerks your chain and fucks with your head. Keep writing about it and reading and rereading it until you can manage to cut him off.

I would not drag a friend into this. Start a free blog. Post once a day the same message: "I am still alive." Nothing else. Give him the link to it and tell him if he needs to reassure himself you are okay, he can check your blog. Beyond that, do not interact with him.
posted by Michele in California at 5:06 PM on February 17, 2016 [20 favorites]

Your ex is behaving like a jerk. As things stand, there is no way to keep in contact with him and not feel like crap. Block HIS number and then delete his contact information from your phone. He may have helped you cope in the past but clearly talking to him is only making you feel worse, not better. Make more use of the rest of your support system-- complain about him via text or email, invite a friend over to do an activity where you don't have to do a lot of talking and put a surgical face mask on if you're really worried about being contagious. I should hope that you have at least one good friend who would be more than willing to brave getting sick to help you in your time of need. You're used to the ex being your only support, but I think your loved ones may surprise you in their ability to step up to the plate and help you get through this.

Is there anyone you can stay with for a few days? I can't imagine that being sick and alone in the apartment you had planned to share with him is making this any easier.
posted by fox problems at 5:10 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

my partner and I accidentally built my coping strategies around my total emotional reliance on him.

I will add that this is probably not at all accidental. Isolating the victim is standard practice in abusive relationships. Start your journal by exploring that aspect of the relationship.
posted by Michele in California at 5:27 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

Jesus Christ, is he in formation for the ministry? I'd report him to his clerical supervisor, what he is doing is VERY NOT OKAY if he's in training for monkhood or priesthood. It's also not uncommon; young ministers-to-be are often over-focused on "saving" people and behave in very inappropriate ways in an attempt to do so. He won't get in "trouble" but he will get counseled onto the correct behavior for this kind of situation.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:28 PM on February 17, 2016 [19 favorites]

Reading the previous question you've linked here, I notice that you'd said he was going to pay for half your rent if you moved into the Loft ... is that what is going on now? If so, holy cow, please do make it a priority to get out of that asap - a roommate if possible, or I guess moving into a place you can afford on your own otherwise. Even if the money is "child's play" to him, it's still setting up a link and an obligation between the two of you at a time when he is an actual and serious drain on your well-being, and it's going to be all that much harder to free yourself until this money thing is resolved.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:51 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

I'm not sure you will be able to be at peace in the loft, ever. You sound like you are in absolute crisis-- can you break the lease and move out? If the rent is trivial to him, it shouldn't matter whether you're living there or he sublets to somebody else. Get out, go no contact, make life easier on yourself!
posted by instamatic at 6:21 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

- Get a humidifier and start using it. You need moist air to heal your lungs. If you are a few weeks past initially getting sick, you're very likely not contagious. Your lungs got irritated and they are still very very irritated. Dry air is your enemy, so fix that.

- Take all the other great advice in this thread.

Be well. You'll be OK.
posted by jbenben at 7:31 PM on February 17, 2016

Why aren't you blocking *his* number? Send all those texts to oblivion.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:57 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I wrote this a few weeks back:
Best case scenario is he pays his half and lets you live your life and doesn't actually interfere with you, then you're still in THIS PLACE that reminds you of him and every single day you remember that you're only in THIS PLACE because HE IS SUPPORTING YOU. This place is like the Venus Flytrap of rentals. Very pretty, but do not want.
Move out. Block him on all avenues of contact. You know he's toxic for you, don't you?
posted by disconnect at 7:08 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

How can I take his calls and not get worked up? Does this heart thing have an off switch???

No the heart doesn't, but your phone does. Use it. Block his number; do not take his calls. Make plans to move as soon as you're well. (Bronchitis can be truly crippling, I know. Use that inhaler, yo!)

Get with the non-meds side of your mental health team and tell them that you need to revisit your coping plans with them ASAP. Just be straight with them: "I was relying too much on a romantic partner for stability; now I need to start building a different support system, please help me do this." Take the xanax when you need it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:21 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Lung infections are really rough. Cut yourself some slack for feeling like such a mess right now. You will cope better when you are less sick.

Plus, I strongly suggest you consider this: He had cancer, you took care of him and he lived. Meanwhile, you had a nervous breakdown. I am absolutely sure you did not intentionally arrange for him to get cancer so you could play hero. I am not absolutely sure he did not cause your breakdown so he could claim credit for keeping you together.

Ignore this bullshit message you seem to have taken to heart that you are mentally ill and need his support. The odds are good that you are the strong, competent half of this equation.

Yes, I see that you have a diagnosis of bipolar. I don't care. You kept him alive. Meanwhile, he is currently pushing you over the edge with blatant headfuckery and possibly pushed you over the edge before. That shit of "I will never abandon you" -- he dumped you. He already abandoned you. That is what they call a bald faced lie.

So, cut yourself some slack and start examining the relationship with a very critical and suspicious eye. This man is not good for your mental health.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 10:06 AM on February 18, 2016

I don't want friends to come over bc I shouldn't really talk (it inflames my system) and I don't want to get them sick.

Lots of good advice above, including taking your meds and reaching out to your mental health professionals, but I would also urge you to re-think this. I think you should ask some friends to visit you, even if it isn't to talk. Just to be there with you for a bit. Someone just sitting by your side, holding your hand, or making you some soup, perhaps while wearing a mask, can be so comforting during tough times. They can discourage you from calling him, help take care of you, and, most importantly, help you feel less alone. You don't want to further this dynamic in which he is your only outlet, but contact with him only makes things worse. If you were my friend and I knew you were on bed rest and going through this tough breakup, I'd want to stop by after work some evenings and just visit with you for a bit.
posted by Area Man at 10:08 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So....a bit of an update.

I want to truly thank everyone here for helping me find the strength to reach out to others. I texted a few friends yesterday and explained that I am on bedrest and one friend was so kind she came and picked me up and I spent the night at her house, where I was able to take a warm bath and watch tv. Unfortunately, she is a smoker, and although she says she only smokes outside I could definitely smell it and feel it in the house, so I am unable to stay again tonight. Plus, tomorrow I am having furniture delivered to the Loft so I have to be there anyway.

Although I am not getting physically better yet, I have made an emergency counseling appointment by phone for tomorrow afternoon after all of your insistence (thank you) and I am able to sleep with the Xanax. I texted two other friends last night after reading several posts on here and both friends have been sending me happy pictures and messages, and my boss and co-worker have offered to come by with Gatorade, etc., so as arduous as the process may be, I am realizing that there are other people in this world that care about me.

As far as the monk goes, I am still really struggling; but the fact that I have severe difficulty even speaking has made it easier not to call him. Nothing like forced silence, looks like I'm the monk now. I have been trying to ignore his calls because I still don't have the strength to block his number, although I made a list of things to discuss with the therapist tomorrow and my inability to block his number is at the very top of his list. Anyway, I have not been answering although he has been calling a lot to "check on me," but then last night after I took the Xanax he called and I was crying so I was weak and picked up and he asked me if he could sing to me and he sang me a bunch of lullabies and told me how beautiful I was and honestly I have no idea if I was in heaven or If I told him to f**k off because when I woke up this morning I could not remember the end of the conversation after taking a whole mg of Xanax in addition to the codeine cough syrup. Anyway, I started thinking about it today and it made me REALLY MAD that he wants to dump me but then also play like he is this best friend who is always there for me and sing lullabies. I am seeing that he is trying to make me feel crazy for saying I can't be friends and that I need space to heal my heart, like that is some ludicrous request!!

Still, this is not a one-sided problem. I told him when I met him that I had never been in love and I had never told anyone everything, and that I had been told I had an anxious-attachment style, and had endured childhood trauma and blah blah and I guess I feel betrayed that he had to be the first person to ever make me feel safe, and saved, and broken, and destroyed. And I am beginning to recognize in myself that I now almost-instinctually reach for him both in my consciousness and my actions whenever the slightest bit of discomfort comes along, and I know you guys disagree, but I feel that is a cord that needs to be severed slowly (by gradually building my inner strength and other coping skills) instead of yanking the cord out completely, especially given my fragile state right now. Yet, if all I'm setting myself up for is getting calls and lullabies and told how beautiful I am, I understand that holding on to my security blanket is damaging. Hence, why I need to discuss with the therapist why I have a "block" ha about blocking his number.

As an introvert, it was very difficult to reach out to friends in a time of need so truly, thank you for suggesting that - it is somehow easier to spill my guts on the Internet.

Two more things:

Ok, so I am obviously obsessed with this person, we have been through life and death and breakdowns together, but someone suggested writing in my journal so I wrote this whole long essay today about how the pain of unrequited love is really the pain of betrayal and the rejection experienced by the Ego, and God I miss work so much that I poured every ounce of frustration I had into my little unrequited love essay and then why I was done I opened up an email to send it to him, because that is how we initially fell in love, trading philosophical writings, and I pasted the essay in the email, and for once in my life, I did NOT send it. I know that may not seem like that big of a deal, but to me it was a paradigm shift in realizing I do have self-control when it comes to him and I am my own person even if I felt like we had to function as a single entity to save his life when he was sick.

Ok so lastly. I get a call today from this company called the "Visiting Angels" and it's like a senior care home health service and they tell me the Monk has paid for a whole staff to come and provide me with three days of "care." They will cook me meals, help me unpack, clean etc. I was fucking dumbfounded. I texted my mom and she was like, "that's so sweet of him" but is it just my pride or does feel like the biggest head fuck of all? Honestly, I took care of him when he had cancer because I WANTED to bc I loved him, and I never throw it in his face, but I can't help but be hurt that when I am struggling he just pays somebody else to clean it up. I was so dumbfounded I just hung up the phone, even though I really do struggle to ask people for help and I really could use it right now.

If you made it this far reading, thank you. I think just writing this all out kept me from trying to scream through infected bronchial tubes.

posted by asmith30 at 4:26 PM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

emotional labor

If you haven't read the above thread yet, please do so. It is long. It will keep you occupied for a bit. Lots of women found it to be a big deal, in a positive way.

I think it would be okay to accept the paid help while also cussing him in your journal for it. Do what you need to do to get better.

(hugs) if you want them.
posted by Michele in California at 4:42 PM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Take the paid help. You earned it and you need it.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:20 PM on February 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Take the paid help. Don't thank him for it. You are not communicating with him. You do not owe him a thank you. He owes you the decency of not contacting him.

I would encourage you to not frame this as being obsessed with him. What you are experiencing -- the stuck thoughts, the howling pain, the feeling nobody could really understand, the feeling of deep betrayal, all of it -- is totally normal. The first time you fall in love you just cannot believe that anyone has ever felt this way before, and when you break up you just can't believe anyone could survive this.

The next time, you're better going in because you know you'll make it out the other side if it ends.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:55 PM on February 20, 2016

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